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REEDSPORT — The Lower Umpqua Hospital is getting ready to expand, after purchasing land where the Covenant United Methodist Church used to hold services.

According to Rosa Solano, public relations director for LUH, the hospital plans to move non-clinical services to the building, then expand their patient services in the main hospital campus. A press release from LUH states the current plan is for the business office and such services as the Family Resource Center and the Health Information Management Department to be consolidated and moved to the new building.

Though plans are still being discussed and the space needs to undergo renovation, the release said, LUH hopes to expand its Rehabilitation Services and Outpatient Nursing, among other services, using the space opened up at the main campus. The move will take place in phases over a few months after upgrades are completed.

Solano said they plan to start the upgrades as soon as possible and expect to complete them by the end of the year.

The press release states the purchase is a fiscally responsible move given the shortage of space the hospital has faced. It also helps keep everything closer together as the Covenant UMC building is approximately one-half mile from the main campus.

"We have had space constraints for awhile and it's a great opportunity for our staff and patients," Solano said of the expansion.

Before, LUH housed some of its services in space rented from the Reedsport School District. However, the release stated RSD announced earlier this year it needed the space for its own projects and requested the hospital relocate.

Covenant UMC closed earlier this year after nearly 55 years at the location and the property was put up for sale. The church operated in the area for more than 125 years, originally opening in Gardiner.

LUH also recently added a urogynecology program. According to Solano, urogynecology is a field specializing in conditions that affect the muscles and connective tissue of the female pelvic organs. She added it's difficult to recruit for the field and they're fortunate to be able to include the program now.

Solano said LUH welcomed Lanita Witt, MD, and nurse practitioner Paula Daystar to staff the new program. According to Solano, Dr. Witt received her medical degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles and is board certified as an ob/gyn and in female pelvic medicine and reproductive surgery. Daystar has a Master's Degree in Nursing from Oregon Health & Science University and is a certified Women's Health Nurse Practitioner through the University of Colorado.

"Both Dr. Witt and Paula came out of retirement to work in Reedsport," Solano added.

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