Friend hospital getting $2.2 million makeover

FRIEND, NE — There’s a new look coming to Friend Community Healthcare System.

The southeast Nebraska critical access hospital is making significant facility upgrades thanks to a $2.2 million grant distributed through the CARES Act. CEO John Wilson says the makeover will be transformational.

“(We hope that) people will actually view us differently,” Wilson said. “Once the brick and mortar changes, often that cascades out into people realizing that we’re here to stay.”

The upgrades include two patient isolation rooms with air filtration systems and ADA approved bathrooms, a new nurses station in a more premier location, a new entrance and an upgraded emergency department.

All the facility improvements tie back to fighting infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“The whole world has learned from (the pandemic) and we’re adapting and learning that we need to be ready to treat infectious patients of all types,” Wilson said.

Wilson says the emergency department improvements are among the most exciting. The hospital is revamping its existing emergency bay and adding two more, enhancing its ability to provide critical care.

“There are times when 20 miles is too far to go to save a life,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen that over and over and over again where we are able to either stabilize and care for here or stabilize and ship to a larger hospital.”

The renovations will be done by the end of the year and possibly as early as Halloween.