After Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) opened the doors late last month in Lincoln County to its first medical facility designed solely around meeting and enhancing patient care and convenience, the state-of-the-art structure is now catching fire across the region.
Lincoln Medical Plaza II, located on the property of Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln on McAlister Drive in Lincolnton, started seeing area patients the first week of May, staggering the opening date of each of the four medical practices it contains, CHS officials said.
All primary and specialty care practices were moved in by May 23, according to CMC-Lincoln’s corporate communication specialist, Stephanie Boothe.
It’s the first time primary care has been brought to the hospital campus, CHS Assistant Vice President Nancy Causey said during a private media tour of the facility Thursday evening.
The tour preceded a private grand opening event.
The opening of the 60,000 square-foot facility, which broke ground in November 2012, comes just four years after CHS established Lincoln Medical Plaza I, located next door.
The newest plaza, however, provides patients with ample opportunities for privacy, reduced appointment wait times and an overall increase in the quality of medical care.
A total of 35 doctors, spanning more than a dozen different specialties, work inside the new office space, according to a previously published Times-News article.
More than 80 employees are on staff and complete a range of medical duties. Hospital officials said they have succeeded in reducing waiting room time through the creation of a centralized check-in station, similar to that of a hotel.
By having patients’ rooms ready upon arrival for appointments, individuals can proceed straight to a private room within their practice’s designated area.
A light, located above each room, flashes during check-in, not only alerting medical officials of the person’s arrival, but also notifying them to being proper preparations for the appointment.
Once the patient enters the room and closes the door, the light stops flashing and becomes solid, relaying to physicians that a nurse is in the room checking the person’s weight, blood pressure and other vitals.
The floor plan for each practice is open and spacious with no closed areas other than patient rooms.
“The only time anything is ever closed off is after hours,” Causey said.
Each practice also contains two pods — known as “bullpens” — that serve as centralized locations stationing medical officials and allowing them to view patient rooms at all times, according to Dr. Daniel Senft, Lincoln Family Medicine physician and medical director for CHS Medical Group.
“They are designed so (medical staff) can have a direct visual of the rooms and patient areas,” he said.
Medical officials said each person who does have to wait will receive a beeper that will alert them when a room is ready.
If no referrals or checkup appointments need to be scheduled, a patient can checkout inside his room and leave the facility without stopping at another station, streamlining the appointment process.
“You can just walk right out of the building,” Senft said.
Each practice also houses its own mini-lab for phlebotomists to carry out point-of-care testing for urine, hemoglobin, flu and strep throat.
More complex lab work takes place on the first floor inside the facility’s larger centralized lab space, which receives samples throughout the day directly from the mini-labs, CHS officials said.
A patient’s travel within the facility is also continually tracked during the appointment process, keeping medical officials from ever having to guess one’s location, particularly if a person needs to leave the room for a lab test or other medical care.
“We know where the patient is at all times,” Senft said.
Each of the four practices located inside the facility stemmed from various locations across Lincolnton and include LakeMont Family and Pediatric Medicine and Lincoln Family Medicine, both formerly on Center Drive, along with McAlister OB/GYN Associates and Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, previously located inside Lincoln Medical Plaza I.
Levine Cancer Institute-Lincoln is also housed inside the plaza, but due to the nature of its treatment, maintains its own lab system and additional procedures and technologies separate from the other four practices in the plaza.
Both family medicine practices have room to grow their physician base.
Located on the second floor, each practice currently maintains five doctors with space for up to seven, Causey said.
The floor above them houses the second two practices including Sanger, built for two providers — and currently at maximum capacity — and McAlister, built for five providers.
The third floor additionally maintains room for a fifth full-time practice as well as part-time space for a specialist wishing to treat area residents from time-to-time, according to Causey.
An X-ray center for digital radiography is also located on the plaza’s first floor. Following exams, results are sent straight to patient rooms for private viewing with a doctor.
CHS officials said they currently have no future plans for further expansion on the CMC-Lincoln campus but have a second facility, similar in concept and design to Lincoln Medical Plaza II, set to open in Rock Hill, S.C.