BR General to build $24 million addition

Baton Rouge General Medical Center plans to add two floors and 64 beds to an existing patient tower at the Bluebonnet campus, a project that will cost an estimated $24 million, according to the head of the hospital’s parent company.

“We are adding two additional patient floors to one of our towers, which is mandated by the demand, the number of patients,” said Dr. Evelyn Hayes, General Health System’s interim president and chief executive officer.

Nicole Kleinpeter, a spokeswoman for the General, said construction on the tower’s fifth and sixth floor is expected to begin in late spring.

The completion date is estimated around the end of 2014 or early 2015, Kleinpeter said. The additional beds will give the Bluebonnet location a total of 265 patient beds.

It has been only 18 months ago since the General announced a $40 million expansion at the Bluebonnet campus. The project included a new five-story medical office building with 105,000 square feet of space and the addition of four large operating rooms. The General originally projected that building would be completed this year.

Hayes said the steel for the office building is ready to go up.

General Health System has a lot of things going on, not the least of which involves a national search for a new CEO to replace Bill Holman, who retired Tuesday, Hayes said.

Hayes said she has named three people to the search committee: board member Perry Franklin, president of Franklin Industries LLC; former board member Edward Starns, a director with Postelthwaite & Netterville; and Dr. William Russell, medical director, radiation oncology, for the General’s Pennington Cancer Center.

While Hayes will also serve on the committee, Franklin will head it, she said. Hayes added she expects to name one or two other people to the committee.

“I don’t know how long I will serve as interim CEO. It’s like any other search,” Hayes said. “If you find the person you want, it could be fairly short.”

The search committee and the board aren’t going to rush, Hayes said, but they aren’t going to let any grass grow under their feet.

Kleinpeter said the health system has hired Korn/Ferry International to perform the search. She said a task of this scale and scope could take anywhere from four to nine months.

Hayes said the committee hasn’t set the search parameters yet. But the health system will need someone financially savvy with a grasp of governmental, regulatory and quality of care issues, Hayes said.

Health care experience isn’t mandatory, but that would obviously give a candidate a leg up, she said.

Hayes would also like to see the new CEO demonstrate some expertise in efficiency, possibly through the Lean Six Sigma management concept.

“I’m going to want someone who’s going to buy into the things we’re doing,” Hayes said. “I mean, really nothing’s broke right now.”

The General has a great management team, lots of wonderful initiatives, such as the Seniors Emergency Room at the Mid City campus, she said.

“So we need someone who’s going to jump right in and lead us along,” Hayes said.