Westerville News & Public Opinion

Hospital expansion opens space for sicker patients

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Mount Carmel St. Ann's Hospital opened the doors to its new main entrance and "regional-care" concept last week.

After two years of renovations and expansions, aimed at meeting the growing demand for a variety of health-care services and increasing hospital capacity, St. Ann's celebrated its grand reopening Dec. 5.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus Bishop Frederick F. Campbell attended to perform the blessing during the expanded facility's Blessing and Grand Opening Celebration that evening.

The $110-million expansion, the largest ever investment by Mount Carmel, includes a new four-story patient tower, an expanded dining facility, new parking garage and a two-story main entrance that now reorients the hospital to the south.

The expansion was expected to bring about 200 new jobs to the hospital.

"It's a rarity to get to be a part of an expansion of this magnitude," said St. Ann's President and COO Janet Meeks. "It's one of those massive types of expansions that you take so seriously because you know it's a project that we're leaving for those who will follow us for many, many, many years."

The new patient tower adds 60 beds to the facility, something that was key to the hospital as demand for care has grown in recent years, Meeks said.

"Our hospital has been extraordinarily full. We've had days that we haven't had any more room because every bed was full," Meeks said.

The hospital also added operating rooms and a cardiovascular care facility with the expansion, and in April, it will offer open-heart surgery.

When researching to prepare for the expansion, hospital leaders found an increasing demand for care for patients with more serious illnesses, Meeks said, and they expect that demand to grow.

"We are seeing sicker patients, more acute patients. Some of the complex surgical procedures needing multiple surgeons, we haven't had as much of that in the past," Meeks said.

With more services being offered at St. Ann's, Meeks said she expects more people to seek out the hospital for care.

"We are already seeing more patients come in from adjacent communities to seek out more complex types of care," she said.

The expansion also comes with other benefits.

The dining hall expansion includes a bistro-like cafeteria, from which patients order their meals. A coffee shop also will open soon within the hospital.

The new entrance allows for easier wayfinding within the hospital, Meeks said. Visitors and patients immediately will approach a registration desk, and will be greeted and directed throughout the hospital. With a reconfigured layout, people will have to take fewer steps to get to their destinations within the hospital, Meeks said.

Though the expansion is a big change for the hospital, St. Ann's will continue to offer the friendly, faith-based care it is known for, Meeks said.

"When guests come here and they walk through the halls of St. Ann's, they will tell me that, 'You have something special here.' Our people are so friendly, and you don't find that everywhere," Meeks said. "One of the things of which we're most proud: To deliver the sophisticated level of complex care here, we will always remain committed to a compassionate and caring culture.

"We understand that as a nonprofit hospital, we exist to serve our community."

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