New Sacred Heart Riverbend Facility to open in Springfield

Article Written by: Suzanne Penegor and Gienie Assink

Sacred Heart Riverbend public relations director Jenny Ulum spoke to Lane County Rubicon Society members on June 5th regarding the new health care facility that will open in August in Springfield, which will provide innovative, essential health care services to Lane County residents. The new hospital, which boasts about 1.2 million square feet, sits on about 50 acres of riverside property and provides a healing atmosphere for its future patients and faculty.

Ulum said the national health care movement has changed, and now hospitals tend to follow the Pebble Project. The Pebble Project and those engaged in it study the need for national change in providing a more healing and caring environment for hospital patients.

At a time when the Boomers are aging, and the US demographics demand more attention be given to health care issues, US hospitals are changing to reflect a more patient-oriented view.

Some hospitals in Portland, for example, offer valet parking for patients. At the new Sacred Heart Riverbend facility, these concerns are evidenced by providing private rooms for all patients, day beds for family members, and RV Parking. In addition to a more caring hospital environment, the health care industry has been trending to less invasive surgical techniques.

Ulum noted that there are 7 different fireplaces in waiting areas located in the new hospital which strive to give the feeling of comfort for patients and families. The grand lobby of the facility also includes woodwork that was sawn from trees removed from the site itself to give the hospital a sense of continuity.

Many local civic leaders, including Springfield City Councilor and banker Lyle Hatfield helped site the Riverbend Hospital. On June 7th, Riverbend paid tribute to Mr. Hatfield for his help by dedicating the “Lyle Hatfield River Trail and 5K Vitality Run”. The new trail will also provide a place for patients to recover through exercise and a more relaxing environment.

The Riverbend facility has room in the future to expand if necessary because the hospital currently owns about 181 acres at the riverside site. A Riverbend Annex is located at the old Sony site and it houses about 1,000 employees. Ulum said the Annex will be renamed but at this time the new name cannot be revealed.

Ulum also noted the University District of Sacred Heart, where the older hospital is located, will also be renovated except for a 1941 wing and chapel–for sentimental reasons. The new RiverBend hospital will add another 338 beds to the Sacred Heart hospital system in the Eugene-Springfield area. The University Dist. hospital sits on 14 acres. Ulum brought along preliminary sketches of what the University Dist. hospital may eventually look like.

The Riverbend hospital will include a new Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute building where heart surgeries will be performed, which is a growing area for the hospital. Ulum said Sacred Heart currently does more heart surgeries than OHSU in Portland.

Further, the Riverbend facility has received $40 million in fundraising for new technology, including private funding for a $1.7 million robot that fills prescriptions. Ulum said the average age of nurses is now over 40 years of age and it is hoped that the new facility will attract new doctors and medical staff to the Lane County area to benefit the local community.

Ulum said the public is invited to tour the new hospital and tours will be conducted on July 19th and 20th. The Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be on July 18th.

When asked by a Rubicon member if this means that more Lane County residents will have birth certificates that say they were born in Springfield instead of Eugene, Ulum answered that state certified birth certificates normally just note the county of birth.

Another member of the audience asked Ulum about a legal agreement with the hospital which concluded the hospital must eliminated a floor from the original plans. Ulum said the hospital did have to reduce the height of the hospital by one floor to accommodate the concerns of other residents on the river.

To hear Jenny Ulum’s speech and review other speakers for Rubicon Society please visit the Rubicon Society website for more information.