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Sunday, June 1, 2003
Last modified at 8:34 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28, 2003
© 2003 - The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

photo: medical

  An artist�s rendition of the future University Medical Center.
t provided by University Medical Center

Lubbock serves region as quality medical care center


Lubbock has been known as the Hub City of the South Plains region for many years.

It serves as the heart of the area's medical care, pumping out life-saving treatment and supplying the lifeblood that courses through capillaries to residents of surrounding communities and through arteries to patients from other states and nations.

Lubbock's three hospital systems -- Highland Medical Center, University Medical Center Health System, Covenant Health System -- offer services that are unique to the region with a focus on providing quality health care.

Of the four Lubbock hospitals, Highland is the only for-profit facility, and the smallest. Yet the intimate setting and the personal attention is part of its attraction. Its nationally-known surgical weight loss program has drawn patients to Lubbock from around the country.

Highland, which has been providing community care for almost four decades, recently added a $1.2 million heart catheterization lab for diagnosing heart disease as part of a $3 million renovation project. The 2,475 square-foot cath lab features a large procedure room, pre- and post-procedure holding areas and state-of-the-art equipment.

Another part of Highland's effort to improve is the recent addition of a cutting-edge CT scanner, which can scan from the top of a patient's head to the bottom of the feet in 54 seconds. Highland was one of the first eight hospitals in the nation to acquire the new scanner, which allows a physician to view multiple angles of a patient at a rate that is 16 times faster than conventional units.

Also included in the renovation project was the remodeling of the third floor, where 30 medical surgical beds are located.

UMC, which recently marked its 25th anniversary, boasts the region's only Level I Trauma Center, and its Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Program is one of only 24 centers nationwide to receive accreditation by the Foun dation for the Accreditation of Hematopoietic Cell Therapy, recognizing the program's autologous peripheral stem cell transplants, cell collection and laboratory processing.

The Southwest Cancer Cen ter at UMC performs 35 to 40 blood and bone marrow transplants each year, the only facility in the region to provide such services. The bone marrow transplant program marked its 10th anniversary this year.

The Southwest Cancer Cen ter, Covenant's Joe Arrington Cancer Research and Treat ment Center and the Lubbock Cancer Center, a partnership between Lubbock physicians Dr. Rodolfo E. Martinez and Dr. Lillian Chou which opened in June 2001, combine to make Lubbock one of the state's premier cities for cancer research and treatment.

UMC's highly-regarded In ter national Pain Institute, based at Texas Tech Uni versity Health Sciences Cen ter, continues to draw patients from across the nation. A growing reputation for quality care also is why the Timothy J. Harnar Burn Center at UMC is among the top 15 busiest of the 178 burn centers in the United States. It is the only certified regional burn center in a broad expanse spanning from Dallas to Phoenix and from El Paso to Oklahoma.

The addition of fifth and sixth floors, plus the doubling of the size of Southwest Cancer Center, are the highlights of a $32 million construction project currently under way at UMC.

The additional 41,300 square feet on the fifth floor will be occupied by 60 new beds, including 33 in the medical surgical area on the west wing and 27 beds in the Intermediate Care/Step Down care area in the east wing.

The 41,300 square feet on the sixth floor will be shelled but not finished out immediately, allowing for future expansion. The construction project also features the $8.4 million addition of 22,312 square feet at UMC's Southwest Cancer Center.

The addition, being built in three phases, and renovation of another 15,730 square feet of existing space, includes private treatment rooms, an expanded infusion treatment area, exam rooms, procedure rooms, a pharmacy and a children's treatment area.

Completion of the expansion of the cancer center and the two additional floors is expected in late summer 2004.

A $2.7 million renovation of the hospital's outpatient surgery and holding area, which will include two new operating suites and a seven-bed holding area, is expected to be completed by late this summer. A $1.3 million renovation of ground-floor office areas is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year.

UMC, governed by the Lubbock County Hospital District, also is home to the Children's Miracle Network, and an affiliation with TTUHSC makes UMC the region's only teaching hospital.

TTUHSC, one of 125 medical schools in the country, is a four-campus system with more than 4,000 employees, including 2,366 at its main campus at 3601 Fourth Street in Lubbock, and an annual operating budget near $380 million, which has doubled during the past 12 years.

TTUHSC's mission includes academics, research and clinical care, along with providing a safety net of care for the medically underserved. Nearly 200 of Lubbock's physicians either attended medical school or completed their residency training there.

During the past two years, TTUHSC has initiated $150 million in construction projects at its four campuses, including a $15 million building for 27 new classrooms and a $34 million clinical tower and research center on the Lubbock campus.

In April 2002, TTUHSC took a bold step toward improving Alzheimer's care and research across the nation, and increased its focus on providing quality geriatric care in West Texas with the opening of Mildred and Shirley Garrison Geriatric Education and Care Center.

The Garrison Center, named for the Hereford residents who are the facility's largest benefactors, is a public/private partnership between TTUHSC and the Sears Methodist Retirement System Inc. The $12 million state-of-the-art, long-term care facility at 3710 Fourth St. is believed to be the first of its kind.

The 72,000-square-foot facility features a five-wing design and includes 120 beds, 60 for skilled care and 60 for Alzheimer's and other age-related dementia care.

UMC and Covenant serve as major referral centers for the region, drawing more than 50 percent of their patients from outside Lubbock County. Covenant Health System, the largest hospital system in Lubbock and throughout the region, is a designated Level II trauma system. Covenant Children's Hospital, adjacent to Covenant Medical Center, is the region's only free-standing hospital devoted exclusively to the medical needs of children.

The state's fifth largest health care organization serves a 62-county area across West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. Pediatrics treatment, including pediatric oncology, pediatric trauma, and pediatric intensive care, draws patients from throughout the region. Patients also travel to Lubbock for adult trauma, cardiac and neurosurgery treatment.

In November 2002, Covenant unveiled its $10 million, 24,000-square-foot emergency department, which took two years to complete, at Covenant Medical Center. The new facility is triple the size of the old emergency room, which was opened in 1987. It measures 100 yards from end to end, the length of a football field.

The number of available beds increased from 17 to 27, though 45 beds are expected to be available when all of the three phases of construction are completed by 2004. The new facility features four private triage rooms and six full-equipped trauma rooms. It is divided into three separate pods, or treatment areas, varying in severity of injury or illness.

All rooms in the new ER are equipped with cutting-edge technology, including telemetry monitoring for pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure and oxygen. Adding to the patient comforts are TV monitors in each of the cubicles and treatment areas.

In February, Covenant closed its emergency room at Covenant Medical Center-Lakeside in an effort to consolidate its operations and increase the efficiency of its new facility.

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