MUNISING - Kevin Calhoun, who previously headed Bell Hospital in Ishpeming for eight years, recently returned to the Upper Peninsula to take over the top job at the brand new Munising Memorial Hospital.
"I'm very pleased to back," Calhoun said. "The people are wonderful and warm."
Calhoun replaced long-time hospital CEO Carl Velte, who retired after two decades at Munising Memorial. Calhoun had been working most recently at the 100-bed J.C. Blair Hospital near Erie, Penn., overseeing a staff of 350. He resigned from Bell Hospital in August 2002.
A schematic of Munising Memorial Hospital shows new additions to the building. (Munising Memorial Hospital photo)
"It's a pleasure coming into a brand new hospital where everything is shiny and new," Calhoun said.
Calhoun said he has been busy over his first few months in the job assessing the needs of the hospital's population to make refinements for the future.
One of the important recent changes lauded by Calhoun, which was actually put into place before he arrived, was the switch from 30-minute response time for emergency room doctors to those physicians becoming in-house providers, continuously available.
"That's a major change," Calhoun said. "It's been a major improvement in services."
Calhoun said the opening of the new hospital resulted in a 10 to 20 percent increase in activity volume. There has been a reported significant increase in both in- and out-patient visits.
With gas prices soaring over the past few months, numerous local residents began having more of their health care needs met at Munising Memorial, Calhoun said.
By early summer, Calhoun hopes to have mobile MRI service available at Munising Memorial, one of the last hospitals in the Upper Peninsula to make that improvement.
Calhoun said Munising Memorial is working with Marquette General Health System to provide more specialty clinic doctors to the Munising area.
A project envisioned over the past few years to provide senior housing on the grounds of the hospital will likely be temporarily put on hold until the region's economic circumstances improve.
"That project could be delayed a year or so," Calhoun said. "It's still a good idea, I think it would be received well in the community."
Calhoun said money from the Obama administration's stimulus package might be available to help the hospital computerize its medical records, which would be a cost savings.
With the new hospital opened and the structure functioning well, administrators are now looking at ways to make upgrades to services in the future.
An independent company will be doing customer service surveys of patrons of the hospital, gauging places the hospital could make changes.
"The building was just the first step," Calhoun said. "We changed the building, now we're inside changing the services."
The hospital currently has 101 employees.
Calhoun worked at Selby General Hospital in Marietta, Ga. from 2004 to 2006, a 35-bed critical access hospital with a staff of 183 full-time employees.
He has had additional experience in leadership positions at hospitals in Piqua and Xenia, Ohio and downstate Jackson.