Publisher’s Letter (March 2007)

More room for improvement


Dear Reader:

As the parents of three active children ages 8, 11 and 13, my wife and I have ample opportunities to experience healthcare real estate first hand. Hardly a week passes without someone needing a routine check-up or, more likely, to be seen for the latest antibiotic-resistant virus to be making the rounds at school.

Our two oldest children – both boys – also seem to be a pitched battle to see who can get the most stitches from various mishaps. That frequently affords us the opportunity to experience the best of what local emergency rooms have to offer.

Even I got to experience that first hand earlier this week when another driver rear-ended my car at full speed as I was stopped, waiting for traffic to clear so I could make a left turn. No one was seriously hurt; they just checked me over and sent me home with instructions to take Motrin and a prescription for muscle relaxants. But the trunk of my car went from about four feet in length to about a foot in a millisecond. I am walking proof that the genius of crumple zones work.

(By the way, the other driver apologized profusely and freely admitted it was all his fault. Yes, friends, he was fiddling with his cell phone. I don’t think he even braked. Don’t get me started on the topic of talking on cell phones while driving.)

Anyway, amid these various misadventures my family and I have experienced the best and worst of what Minneapolis-St. Paul healthcare real estate has to offer. And – making the leap that healthcare facilities in your area probably present a similar range of quality – I am going to generalize a bit about what I have seen.

The good news is that healthcare real estate has come a long way in appearance, quality and convenience. For that, I am convinced that we can thank the building – critics would call it overbuilding – boom of the past few years. Hospitals and health systems with aging facilities have modernized, expanded or replaced antiquated facilities. Competition has also increased in some areas, prompting many a system to build new facilities to meet demand and to stake their claims to emerging markets.

The bad news is that we still have a long ways to go. Inconvenient parking, poor interior and exterior signage, inefficient floor plans, uncomfortable waiting rooms and other deficiencies still plague many healthcare facilities – even some new ones.

The industry has made great strides. But let’s continue to push the envelope with new and better projects that are both profitable and patient friendly.

That’s it for this month. I better sign off before the muscle relaxant kicks in. And, for the love of Pete, use voice commands and a headset if you use your #x@&%^*(expletive deleted) cell phone while driving!

Murray W. Wolf, Publisher

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