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FARMINGTON — San Juan Regional Medical Center is rolling out several projects aimed at improving health care quality and access in the area.

The hospital recently finished remodeling the final two floors of its central tower facility, wrapping up a 10-year master plan to revamp the entire campus. Additionally, the medical center is nearing completion of a walk-in clinic in Bloomfield, which will give the hospital a presence in that city for the first time since 2014.

John Buffington, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said the walk-in clinic is scheduled to be finished later this month. He said the facility will provide a place to treat patients with minor sicknesses or injuries, rather than relying on the hospital or its emergency room for care.

"This is all part of the trend in expanding access," Buffington said. "It will complement our other services."

Buffington said the hospital has already hired an additional nurse practitioner to run the facility. The clinic will initially offer day-time hours, but Buffington said staff will look into expanding services as needed.

Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein said the facility will fill a void for the city.

"We’re glad that (the hospital) will have a presence here again," Eckstein said. "When they left last time, I think there was disappointment in the community."

The hospital closed its previous clinic in 2014 due to budget constraints, according to Daily Times archives. Buffington said he expects the new facility will be financially viable. He said the hospital already owned the building at 100 N. Church St. and expects to spend about $130,000 on construction and equipment.

"That’s not that much in the scale of things," Buffington said.

That project will be a minor undertaking compared to the recently completed $6 million renovation of the central tower at the hospital’s main campus.

Larry Smith, the hospital’s director of support services, said remodeling the second and fourth floors of the tower were the final steps needed to bring the entire hospital up to date with a modernization initiative adopted in 2006. The hospital announced the completion of the projects on Aug. 9.

The two floors house acute care facilities, where patients often spend extended periods of time. Smith said the upgrades were aimed at promoting privacy and creating a more relaxing atmosphere. But addition to ambiance, rooms were also fitted with technological improvements, including computer systems that can assist doctors with keeping track of administering medication.

"We have a state-of-the-art facility," Smith said.

Smith said the hospital will enjoy a bit of relief now that the 20-month construction period is complete.

"It can be very challenging and disrupting to our patients," he said. "They have to deal with noise and vibrations."

Crews also had to stagger work so the hospital could continue providing vital services while keeping facilities clean.

"We got it finished nevertheless," Smith said. "Now should be done for a little while."

But in the fast-paced medical industry, Smith noted additional improvements are always on the horizon.

"Technology advances often so you’ve need keep up with it," he said. "You’re always doing some kind of renovation."

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606. 

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