WRMC expansion continues as second phase nears end

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published March 3, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 1, 2013 at 12:56 p.m.
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The remodel of White River Medical Center’s East Tower includes a new cafeteria area, complete with patio seating, a Subway and a coffee shop.

Finishing touches are going on for the second phase of construction at White River Medical Center’s East Tower.

After the project began in June 2011, departments have been slowly transitioning into the new space, including a remodeled cafeteria on the first floor. Now, the hospital is preparing to move its expanded surgical services department, including pre- and post-op rooms and family seating areas.

An open house of the newest areas will take place at 10 a.m. March 12 in the East Tower. Tours will be provided by hospital staff. The new surgical-services area is expected to start receiving patients on March 18.

“We’ll not only be showing people the facility but introducing the new concept of care that this project is going to implement,” said Sheila Mace, hospital public relations coordinator.

The new pre- and post-op surgical area includes 14 full-sized rooms and six bay areas for quick procedures. The

layout of the area — including small sliding doors between rooms — will allow patients to be tended by the same nurses before and after procedures. Mace said the concept was chosen to help reduce patient anxiety and allow staff to be used more efficiently. The full-sized rooms also allow family members to be in the room with patients as they recover. Older rooms in the hospital were too small for more than a patient and a nurse. The space also includes a separate consultation room where doctors can speak with families while a patient is recovering.

“We’re also taking a lesson from our friends in the restaurant business, and families will be issued pagers as they wait for their loved one in surgery,” Mace said.

In addition to the pre- and post-op surgical areas, the second phase of the East Tower also includes a new registration area, including four private registration rooms and a system that quickly delivers tests to the laboratory through a tube.

The hospital’s environmental-services department was also moved to the East Tower during the second phase of renovations, giving the staff more space.

Though mid-March will mark the end of this phase, construction at the hospital is ongoing. An expanded, renovated emergency department will be a major focus for the hospital in upcoming months. Hospital CEO Gary Bebow said the expanded and renovated department will be completely separate from other parts of the hospital, so emergency patients and scheduled patients don’t have to share waiting space or recovery space, as they do now. The new department will also more than double the emergency treatment space and allow for a dedicated room for treating mental-health emergencies.

With so many changes at the hospital, Mace said, the space looks different nearly every time a patient visits.

“If you drive up to the campus for the first time and it’s been several days or weeks, whole new projects are finished, and the area looks different,” Mace said.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Associate Features Editor Emily Van Zandt can be reached at .

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