MATTHEWS – Even forward-thinkers like Roland Bibeau can appreciate a 25-year anniversary.
He’s looking forward to celebrating Novant Health Matthews Medical Center’s milestone Aug. 24 with the community and sharing insight about the hospital’s past, present and future.
Since arriving 11 years ago as president, Bibeau has worked to expand the hospital to meet the needs of the community. This extends beyond the development of the campus on Matthews Township Parkway and into advancing the level of medical care provided to patients.
“The vision that I had shared with the community and certainly with the team is that we have a couple of different routes for growth,” Bibeau said. “One was to enhance our critical care, which are advanced acute care services.”
The hospital expanded vertically in 2013, opening a fifth floor with 23 in-patient rooms, nine observation rooms and three hospice beds. The hospital added a women’s center in 2016 to upgrade its maternity and gynecological facilities.
But the hospital isn’t done yet.
“We don’t have any capacity to add more beds or more patients,” Bibeau said. “We do have some patients that wait for an in-patient bed. They wait – I’m going to suggest patiently – because this is a community hospital and they do not want us to transfer them to another facility even if it is within the Novant Health system. Why? Because this is their community. This is their community hospital.”
The hospital plans to apply for approval from the state to add to its 157 beds. Bibeau mentions the need for a tower of more than 20 beds, but he admits the state will determine the number the hospital qualifies for.
Bibeau also wants to expand and improve the hospital’s surgical services, specifically operating room suites to deliver the same level of care it provides to in-patient and observation patients.
Prior to joining the hospital, one of his roles as an administrator with Novant Health was building medical plazas in Ballantyne, Monroe and Steele Creek.
“I really do love working with teams to build things, create things,” Bibeau said. “At the end of the day, it’s what we deliver in those spaces.”
Clinical Coordinator Donna Nickel, who has worked for Novant Health for nearly 37 years, embodies that spirit. She was the first person hired in the cardiopulmonary department prior to the opening of the hospital 25 years ago.
Nickel remembers the excitement among the initial staff when it came to preparing the hospital for opening. She described the staff as a close family. That view has extended to many of her patients.
“I have personally developed relationships with patients through the years that I still see here,” Nickel said. “They come up to me in the front lobby or they are here with their family members. They hug me and tell me, ‘Remember when you took care of me for this procedure’ and I do remember them.
“We establish those bonds. That has been very special to me through the years because it helps me give them better care. It helped relieve a lot of their anxiety.”
Relationships are important to the hospital.
The community is invited to the campus for Memorial Day observances and holiday events.
The 10-year-old Festival of Trees includes a tree lighting ceremony and dozens of decorated trees available for auction. Proceeds from the sale of the trees help area charities.
“We wanted to invite the community into our facility, not just in their time of need, but also to lift their spirits up,” Bibeau said. “It’s truly a festival for everyone to bring the community closer together.”
The hospital and Novant Health are big supporters of community events, such as Matthews Alive. Novant Health is also a title sponsor for several of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce’s largest community events.
Kelly Barnhardt, executive director of the chamber, said being one of the largest employers in the area gives the hospital a large influence on the community. But its impact is deliberate, given its work with nonprofits and chamber members.
“I think they have a true belief in giving back to the Matthews community,” Barnhardt said.
The medical center began as Presbyterian Hospital Matthews 25 years ago. Presbyterian Hospital merged with Forsyth Memorial Hospital a few years later and rebranded as Novant Health.
Though it’s been years since the name change, some longtime residents still refer to the hospital by its old name.
“They remember it fondly and understand clearly that regardless of the name, they still understand what we deliver every day and how we connect to the community,” Bibeau said. “That’s what truly warms my heart and keeps the energy level from the perspective that we have to do the right thing for our patients and families.”
Want to go?
The 25th anniversary community celebration of Novant Health Matthews Medical Center takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 in the parking lot, 1500 Matthews Township Pkwy. The Substitutes will perform music, while guests can munch on food and drink. Health and safety educators will be there as well.