Hospital expansion nearing completion

SALEM – An expansion project which began as a huge hole along East State Street now stands more than four stories high, just weeks away from unveiling a brighter, more modern healing environment for Salem Community Hospital patients.

“Our job is to decrease their anxiety from the moment they walk in,” SCH President/CEO Anita Hackstedde, M.D. said during a recent tower tour.

The hospital will kick off the new year not only with three new floors dedicated to patient care and two levels of enclosed parking, but also with a new name. The hospital announced Friday that SCH will become known as Salem Regional Medical Center.

Plans for the $42.5 million hospital expansion were first announced in the spring of 2012. Hackstedde said the project remains “on time and on budget.” She said it’s a huge investment and shows the hospital’s commitment to the community and area residents.

“We want to be here for them for the long term,” she said.”We truly are about providing the best patient care we can.”

Hackstedde explained there’s more to that than just providing medical care – it’s also about quality of care and the best physical environment. It’s about making the patient feel at the center of everything the hospital does.

Two levels of enclosed parking will offer patients and their visitors more convenience, with an eastside entrance on the lower level and an entrance near the lobby off of Street, along with an exit. A ground floor concourse will connect the new tower and parking garage with the existing lobby area, along with a first floor walkway overlooking the concourse.

The concourse will become the new location for the gift shop, along with a coffee kiosk and public seating areas.

On the patient floors, Hackstedde said there will be less clutter in the hallways because all the equipment will be tucked in and out of the way. The building includes a racetrack design, with three nurses’ stations on each floor on the inside and the patient rooms on the outside with plenty of natural light.

With private rooms, the chance for infection will be reduced and there will be less noise. Families will have their own areas in the rooms and be able to visit any time they want.

“A quieter room and increased sun exposure help with healing,” she said.

Each room will include a flat screen television, desk area, a sofa couch which folds down into a bed, a closet and bathroom. All rooms will have heart monitoring capabilities, with a goal to not have to move patients around.

The tower will ease the job for staff members, too. The lab and respiratory therapy will have staging areas. She explained that they’re still making plans for the vacated areas, which will include existing surgical/medical units, the intensive care unit and the step down unit.

According to a press release about the project’s status, SCH Director of Plant Operations Jerry Wheeler II said the certificate to occupy the 169,700-square-foot tower should be issued by the end of the December.

“This involves passing a series of inspections involving each floor of the new tower, from the parking garage and patient care floors, to the adjacent areas such as the new lobby, gift shop and coffee kiosk. The certificate of occupancy will enable us to launch the advance preparations needed to relocate our patients to their new private rooms in February,” he said.

The job of building the new tower involved 832 people on site, including locals, who labored for 155,000 man hours to get to this point.

Once the building is turned over to hospital staff, plans put together over several months by the Bed Tower Transition Team will be followed to put the furnishings, supplies and technology in place before transitioning staff and patients.

The press release noted that Barbara Hirst, SCH vice president of nursing/human resources, is heading the transition team.

“Many people have moved to a new home at some time in their lives and understand how much effort is involved in packing up and relocating all of their possessions,” she said. “In comparison, we will be furnishing and equipping 87 private patient rooms and support areas on each floor of the tower.”

“The Bed Tower Transition Team has been working together to develop detailed plans that will address the needs of our patients, visitors and staff during the move,” she said in the release, “from cleaning the entire structure, to the delivery and placement of furniture and supplies, to the preparation of phone and computer systems, to orienting staff and finally to the actual relocation of patients and their family members to their private rooms. Each of these efforts is being coordinated to help ensure a seamless transition to the tower.”

The tower will include 27 rooms on the first floor for the intensive care and step down units; 30 rooms on the second floor for surgical patients, with four of the rooms designed for pediatric patients; and 30 rooms on the third floor for medical/surgical patients.

The public will have the chance to tour the facilities during open houses planned for the end of January.