By Abby Moran
Overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital’s completed 12.8-million-dollar phased expansion project stands a testament to the vision and dreams of hospital leadership and community members passionate about keeping quality medical care local to the Manistique area.
Stepping through the double sliding doors into the atrium of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital is a remarkable experience. At many hospitals, a slight aroma of antiseptic and cleaning products, a waiting room of patients and bold medical signs with hospital directions is expected. At Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, patients are met with excellent medical care surrounded by peaceful aesthetics.
“The goal of the expansion was increasing specialized services, ensuring we are offering services local folks need with the essential infrastructure hospital staff required to continue providing exceptional medical care,” Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andy Bertapelle states.
Modern energy efficient lighting and large windows spread bright tones across the lobby and a tasteful selection of donated artwork adorns the room’s southern wall. Instead of the expected vinyl coated chairs, the lobby features fabric covered armchairs in soothing tones of muted green and blue – making any patients’ waiting time comfortable and relaxing.
The serene design is remarkable – but more astounding is the functional intent surrounding each element of the hospital. Entering the infusion wing – each patient is met with ultimate privacy, convenience and comfort. To the west of the lobby, the hospital’s new rehabilitation center features floor to ceiling windows and private rooms with sliding doors designed with maximum efficiency for hospital staff. The attached pool center allows patients to experience a balmy temperature for year-round aquatic rehabilitation.
While marveling the aesthetic functionality of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital – it’s essential to recall the hospital’s previous facility. Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital is a nonprofit critical access hospital serving the Manistique community and surrounding area since 1950. The essential 12.8-million-dollar phased expansion project took over a decade of planning, fundraising and dreaming from locals passionate about expanding their medical care. The first phase was completed in 2013 with phase two completed in April 2022. The expansion project was led by former Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital CEO, Robert Crumb. Upon Crumb’s retirement in Sept. 2022, the leadership role transitioned to Bertapelle.
“As we began the phased expansion, leadership asked for staff input on key design elements,” states Bertapelle. “We value the health and happiness of our employees and treat them well.”
Employee input was not only essential in design elements of the facilities, but it also became a central foundation of transferring care from the old hospital facilities into the new building. Employees completed walk throughs of their workspaces, ensuring all final details were prepared for patient care. In fact, the new hospital facilities and increase in specialized services has grown the need for additional staff.
In addition to emergency services, the Rural Health Clinic and Homecare and Hospice, Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital has grown specialized services including its new Rehabilitation and Aquatic Therapy Center, cardiology, ear, nose and throat (ENT) care, bariatric services and behavioral health services.
“Our goal is to the be employer of choice in health care as well as the employer of choice across our central UP community,” Bertapelle states. “We are looking for quality individuals to join our team.”
With 315 employees, the hospital is the largest employer in Manistique. The impact made from Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital ripples through the community affecting everything from the local school district, small businesses, tourism and real estate. The medical care offered by the hospital is critical, but the health and well-being of hospital employees ensures the whole community remains strong.
“We are an ecosystem,” describes Bertapelle. “It’s important all community organizations are partnering as closely as we can. We constantly ask how we can support each other to make sure the community stays strong and healthy.”
The expansion of Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital was only possible through the vision of leadership and the passion from generous donors and local fundraising efforts. Bertapelle explains as a nonprofit hospital, operating margins are small. Members interested in supporting the hospital have an opportunity through upcoming annual festival of trees hosted Nov. 21 - Dec. 4, 2022. In addition to the festival of trees, there are naming opportunities throughout the hospital for interested donors.
“We rely on and encourage philanthropy,” Bertapelle explains. “Fundraising is key to our success.”
To learn more about Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital and future philanthropy opportunities, please visit scmh.org.