SHERIDAN — After several years passed from concept to construction, Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s Outpatient Center will host an open house for the community Tuesday. The center will bring all services provided at the Big Horn Mountain Medicine across the street, unifying many of SMH’s services in one facility.

The new facility will be open for patient services starting March 4. Formerly known as the Medical Arts Complex, the Outpatient Center will include ear, nose and throat; the heart center; internal medicine; the women’s clinic; wound care; home care and hospice; clinics; outpatient labs and diabetes education.

The Heart Center and Women’s Clinic are already operating in their new offices, as the Women’s Clinic simply expanded into a section of the outpatient addition.

The Heart Center is currently operating out of the former office of Dr. Michael Strahan, who retired in the fall of 2018.

“For some time now, the facilities and parking across the street have not adequately supported the clinic practices,” hospital CEO Mike McCafferty said. “Our internal medicine practice — formerly Big Horn Mountain Medicine — has been operating out of two completely separate buildings, which makes running an efficient operation difficult. The Outpatient Center will help improve patient convenience while supporting clinic practices and increasing efficiency.”

The hospital’s internal medicine sector has been steadily increasing its workforce as other primary care physicians have left the community. In the past five to six years, the hospital brought on at least eight internal medicine physicians, one otolaryngologist, one cardiologist and three OB-GYNs along with other nurse practitioners and nurse assistants.

In addition, Dr. Ben Widener, who left Sheridan to complete rheumatologist training, will return July 2020 and open a practice for that purpose with SMH. An unfinished section of the second floor may be constructed to house that practice.

“We built it with two floors,” said Rob Forister, director of facility support services at SMH. “You never know what our next business is going to be, what kind of specialty is going to come in. We have all this shell space available for future use and it’ll never be any cheaper to build than it is today. It was a good investment for us to make all that happen at once.”

Courtesy graphic | Sheridan Memorial Hospital

The new building was created with patient ease in mind. As patients enter the building after parking in one of the 300 new spots in front of and behind the east wing, they are greeted by a 360-degree desk. The front desk, or wayfinding desk, will be managed by staff members until a volunteer program is established and running smoothly. Desk attendees will direct patients to the correct area of the Outpatient Center. Internal medicine is directly to the right upon entering the building from the south, or Fifth Street, entrance.

A significant aspect of the move is having internal medicine and lab testing in the same building, and physicians who also work as hospitalists across the street will now report to the same building for work each day.

The 34 patient rooms in internal medicine will help improve patient flow by having an entrance for patients and a separate entrance for nurses, PAs and physicians from a back area where nurses stations sit in groupings and are identical in each pod. The consistency will help physicians pop between patient rooms.

The budget for the building project totaled $15.5 million for 70,000 square feet of space, with 30,000 of that unfinished shell space for future growth.

“Growth is a significant factor that we take into consideration in our master site facilities planning,” McCafferty said. “In 2004, 55 percent of the services we provided were inpatient based. Over the past 10 years outpatient-based services took the lead with 60 percent.”

Staff members will be stationed throughout the building to answer questions during the open house from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday.