Hospital opens new medical records building

by Andrea McMaster, The Nebraska Medical Center | August 11, 2006

picture disc.The Nebraska Medical Center has opened a new 32,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art medical records facility at 103rd & Crown Point Ave., just west of I-680. An open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Sunday, Aug. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The single-story structure constructed by Wiesman Development will bring together paper records that are currently stored in five different filing rooms across a two city block area at the hospital's main campus.

"By moving to a free-standing building, we will be able to improve efficiency and further enhance customer service," said Dave Fuller, executive director of Patient Finance and Health Information Management at The Nebraska Medical Center. "All of our medical records activities will be in one place - from storage to coding to transcription, which will better serve our physicians, staff and patients."

The move also will free up space on The Nebraska Medical Center's campus on the first floor of the Durham Outpatient Center where 80 percent of the most active records had been stored. Now this area will be used for the UNMC Physicians pediatric clinic.

The paper records will be filed in the environmentally controlled, secured warehouse and brought by courier to the main campus for upcoming hospital and clinic appointments. Urgently needed records will be electronically scanned and made available through the hospital's computer system.

"We have taken steps to make sure that patients' privacy is protected," said Kim Hazelton, Health Information Management manager at The Nebraska Medical Center. "We have sound absorbing, high-walled cubicles in the 'release of information' area. Access to the medical record file room requires a key card. Additionally, records will be transported in closed containers from the building to the hospital via a dedicated courier route."

By partnering with Wiesman Development, the hospital gets a new facility designed to and built to suit its precise needs.

"The building contains the largest shelving system in the state and the system is state-of-the-art in its efficiency," said Mark Wiesman, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wiesman Development.

Movable racks on rails for file storage were incorporated into the shelving design. A conveyer belt will transport records from the loading dock into the file area.

"The new file room is very workable. It will allow employees to access 60 percent of files at one time instead of 20 percent under the old system," Hazelton said. "Cordless phones and a special intercom system will allow employees to answer the phone from anywhere in the 14,500 square-foot file room during periods of minimal staffing."

Special care also has been given to fire prevention and temperature control so that the documents are preserved.

"As more and more of our medical records become electronic, we will reduce our reliance on paper," Fuller said. "The conversion to electronic records should be completed soon, but even then we have a legal and ethical obligation to keep hospital records for at least 10 years after the last date of service and clinic records for at least six years."

The building incorporates wireless technology and bar-code scanners. It also provides new and ergonomically safe work surfaces and chairs. Seventy-five employees of The Nebraska Medical Center began moving into the medical records building on July 18.

Lueder Construction built the new facility designed by Meyer and Associates. It is situated near the new Northwest Precinct of the Omaha Police Department and the new Northwest Community Center in the Wiesman Business Park.