Crews have started preliminary work on a long-anticipated $65 million construction project to bring additional medical care to the Hobbs community.
Earthwork began in early January for Covenant Health Hobbs Hospital at Millen Drive and Lovington Highway northwest of Hobbs, Meredith Cunningham, spokesperson for Covenant Health in Lubbock, Texas, told the News-Sun last week.
First announced in August 2019, Covenant Hobbs Hospital has evolved with Covenant Health’s decision to purchase the former Lea Regional Medical Center Hospital, said Kelly McDaniel, Covenant vice president of operations. What’s going to be built – with a projected opening date of late summer or early fall 2022 – is going to be different than what was initially planned, he said.
“When we designed the original hospital, that was before the acquisition of Lea Regional Medical Center,” McDaniel said. “It was assumed at that time that Lea Regional would still be there.
“We went back and redesigned the new hospital, adding additional capacity – we’d assumed there would be two hospitals in town, now there will be only one,” he said. “We upsized the hospital to make sure it’s large enough to accommodate all the capacity that’s going to be needed there.”
A highlight of the redesigned hospital plans calls for a dedicated women’s center at the north end of the facility, something that is needed in Hobbs, McDaniels said. The women’s center will feature a separate entrance and waiting area and will offer obstetrics, mammography services and more.
“Typical things women seek health care for, a lot of those things will have their own separate areas on the north end of the building, McDaniels said. “Lea Regional offered those services, but this will be a new, dedicated part of the hospital to serve women in the community.”
The redesigned facility will also be slightly larger than originally planned — about 110,000 square feet, he said. Capacity will be 60 beds, with 44 regular admission medical-surgery beds, eight intensive care beds and eight birthing and delivery beds. There will also be a fully-staffed emergency department with about a dozen examination rooms, McDaniel said.
“It will be fully configured as a community hospital, with general medical, general surgery, OB-GYN, orthopedics,” he said.
Once the facility is completed, staff currently working in the former Lea Regional Medical Center building will move in, along with any equipment that can be transferred, and the Lea Regional building will be closed, McDaniel said. But the physician clinics on the former hospital site will continue to be used for the foreseeable future, he said.
Other design features that changed since the initial planning 18 months or so ago won’t necessarily be immediately apparent to anyone visiting the hospital. The changes were spawned from lessons learned over the past 10 months battling the novel corona-virus, including making it easier to isolate areas from each other and possible alterations to the heating and air conditioning systems to better clear germs from the air.
“We hope by the time (Hobbs Hospital) opens, COVID as we know it won’t be as big a deal,” McDaniel said. “But it’s something that could come down the road — it’s the nature of viruses, there will be a next time.
“We’re trying to take some things from what we’ve learned over the last year,” he said. “A lot of people probably won’t even notice it, but we are going to try to incorporate what we’ve learned.”
About one-quarter or more of patients seen at Covenant Health System facilities in Lubbock travel there from southeast New Mexico, Cunningham said. While Covenant Hobbs won’t do away with some of that needed travel for speciality treatment not offered here, letting as many people as possible access care in Hobbs is the goal, Cunningham and McDaniel said.
“To be able to provide for them so they don’t have to travel (to Lubbock) for care is exciting,” Cunningham said.
“This will be a great addition to the community,” McDaniel said. “New hospitals don’t come up very often these days.”