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New Trinity Health Livingston Hospital will bring many specialized services to Livingston County, but not a birthing center

As work commences on the new location for Trinity Health Livingston hospital, new details are emerging as to the types of services that will be provided and what appeared to be the final word on a birthing center.

The four-story, 174,000-square-foot hospital is being built on the campus of Trinity Health Medical Center – Brighton, with plans to open by late 2025.

Speaking Thursday on the Mike & Jon Podcast,  John O’Malley, president of Trinity Health Livingston and Trinity Health Medical Center, laid out details on the new hospital, as well as what may eventually become of the current hospital’s location in Howell.

John O’Malley, president of Trinity Health Livingston and Trinity Health Medical Center

O’Malley says that right now people can see a lot of work underway at the Brighton location as they drive by on Grand River.

“If you’ve been by the campus, there’s a lot of work out in front right now because we put in a ring road that would go all the way around the campus,” he said. “We’re putting in walking trails and new parking lots, but a lot of that activity is going start to die down a bit because the new hospital is going to be located behind Trinity Health Medical Center – Brighton. So, pretty soon you’re going to see minimal activity if you’re standing on Grand River, looking at Trinity Health Medical Center – Brighton out front.”

Rendering of an aerial view of the Trinity Health Livingston Brighton campus

When asked what the new hospital will offer that may be different from what’s existing now, O’Malley said one big change will be the 56 acuity adaptable beds.

“We’re putting in rooms with a treatment model that allows all stages of patient care to come to the patient’s unit from time of admission to discharge,” said O’Malley. “This minimizes the amount of transfers and helps decrease medication errors, infection rates, and medical complications. So we come to you (the patient) and you’re not being shipped all over the facility.”

O’Malley said they will continue to have their 18 existing short stay unit beds, which helps them provide more complex procedures and surgeries that previously had to be done elsewhere.

“We’ve done now half a dozen radical prostatectomies,” he said. “Our urologists are really getting involved in bringing new services to the community. And that’s one that you no longer have to go outside the community. You don’t have to go to Ann Arbor or wherever else. You can have that done right there, and that’s what we’re going to do as we move forward. We’re going to continue to add services to the community that meet the need. Now, when I say meet the need, we’re never going do open heart surgery at Trinity Health Livingston Hospital, even though that may be a need. We’re always going to get you safely to Trinity Health Ann Arbor to have that surgery done. So there are some things we’re just not going to have the capability of doing. Our goal is being a full service, community hospital, but always putting the patient first and foremost from a safety and high quality perspective.”

O’Malley says previous investments made by Trinity Health will compliment the hospital system’s overall offerings in the community.

“We invested over $90 million with IHA Medical Group,” he said. “We expanded primary care services in Howell, Brighton, Pinckney, South Lyon, Hamburg. So we really invested heavily like five or six years ago to do that. That really set us up nicely now to bring in the specialty and the subspecialist to begin to add those services, and we’re going to add them slowly because we want to make sure that we do this in a very safe and high quality manner. Gynecological surgery we’ve expanded. Cardiology, intensive cardiac rehab has been huge. We have expanded orthopedics tremendously, minimally invasive general surgery, bariatric surgery, and oncology.”

However, one big question that has remained is whether or not the new hospital will have a maternity or birthing center, as currently there are none located in Livingston County.

O’Malley said they took a long and hard look at the idea, and in the end, have decided it just doesn’t make financial sense.

“Trust me, I really wanted to bring the birthing center,” he said. That was one of my goals when I first came here 8 years ago. But after a great deal of research, and the pandemic did allow us to do some research, we really dug deep, did our research, had a great deal of discussion and plans for the new hospital no longer include a birthing center.”

O’Malley said that with birthing rates on the decline across the country, as well as in Livingston County, the need is not at a level that can really support a fully staffed 24/7 birthing unit.

“One of the reasons the birthing unit was closed in 2010 was because two out of three local mothers chose to deliver their babies outside of Livington County, including many at Trinity Health Ann Arbor,” he said. “This led to many days in which the Livingston birthing unit delivered one or no babies at all.”

Furthermore, O’Malley says they did a survey of women of birthing age and found that most wanted to deliver their child at a facility with a neonatal intensive care unit.

“We’ll never have one here,” acknowledged O’Malley. “There’s a phenomenal, nationally-renowned NICU at Trinity Health Ann Arbor. So, if you just do the math, you’ve got thirds of the women wanting to deliver a hospital with a NICU, which I understand. And then you have a lot of other women who are delivering outside of a Livingston County hospital anyway.”

O’Malley said that with that one exception, women can obtain all of their pre and postnatal care locally.

“Overall women’s health services, you should be able to get right here,” he said. “We have outstanding pediatricians, we have outstanding, OBGYNs and there’s need to travel all over the world for those services.”

As to the future of the current hospital in Howell, the old McPherson Hospital, O’Malley said that’s something still being looked at.

“We’re evaluating that, and I would say there’s more to come,” he said. “Remember, we just received approval (for the new hospital) in December. But we’re looking at different options, working with different organizations. One of the big things out there is, we’re still in desperate need of behavioral medicine, but we’re going to be working with a number of organizations to see if we can bring some of those services here. So it could be anything, quite honestly. It could be anything from, we’re going tear it down and maybe sell it to a developer to build homes, or to bringing additional services to the community by partnering with another organization. So we just have to do our due diligence right now, and that’s what we’re doing to see what it is we can actually do here. I’ve had a few folks in the community say, ‘Well, don’t just leave and abandon it and it’ll turn into blight.’ That will not happen.”

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