This year marks the 30th anniversary of St. Ann's Hospital's opening in Westerville in 1984.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of St. Ann's Hospital's opening in Westerville in 1984.

And while leaders of today's Mount Carmel St. Ann's celebrate three decades in the community, the hospital also is finishing its five-year, $120 million expansion. The focal point of the expansion is two new cardiovascular operating rooms that, for the first time, will allow St. Ann's to perform open-heart surgeries at its Cleveland Avenue campus.

As of today, May 15, the new operating rooms are accepting patients, opening Westerville's first and only location for open-heart procedures.

But while the debut of the wing focusing on heart care will be new for the community and the hospital, it won't be a new experience for the veteran team of doctors assembled to work in the unit.

The team will be made up of experts who have been working together for as long as a decade, and St. Ann's President and COO Janet Meeks said the transition will be a smooth one, because there will be no uncertainty from the clinicians involved.

"These are seasoned medical professionals who go where the patient is," she said. "We'll always have an experienced team at the patient's bedside. ... You can't bring in the latest, state-of-the-art technology without making an investment in the best clinicians."

That "latest and greatest" equipment is part of what makes the rooms unique, she said.

Each has several flat-screen televisions, including a 55-inch screen in the standard cardiovascular room and a 60-inch screen in the hybrid endovascular suite that features X-ray technology.

And while multiple televisions at every angle may seem excessive, Open Heart Services System Director Jill Snyder said it makes a huge difference for the doctors. Information and images from the surgery can be moved around onto each screen, effectively giving clinicians a heads-up display.

"If you're not looking at where your hands are, that's a problem," she said. "We don't want them to have to turn their heads."

The doctors specifically chosen for the cardiovascular operations are part of a team that works in Mount Carmel's other hospitals throughout central Ohio. And while they have had plenty of work together in the past, there have also been extensive "dry runs" before any actual operations are done at St. Ann's.

Simulations based out of Mount Carmel West allowed the doctors to practice different "clinical events" and adjust to moving the patient throughout St. Ann's, eliminating any acclimation period they may need to know their way around.

"Doctors have told us, 'It doesn't matter what walls I'm in, as long as I'm with the same team and the same equipment,' " Meeks said.

The result, Snyder said, is a seamless transition that will make patient care the priority.

"The collaboration with the St. Ann's team has been just amazing all around," she said.

Meeks said the hospital's massive expansion comes in the logical progression of St. Ann's from community hospital to a destination for those seeking care from around the area.

"A lot of the reason that we have this expansion is because we really have become a regional health center," she said.

The expansion was the most expensive in Mount Carmel's history, and gave St. Ann's about a third more square footage. The project featured a new patient tower with 60 new beds, a new cath lab, a non-invasive cardiology suite, Westerville's only parking garage and the hospital's Bryden Bistro, named after St. Ann's original address on Bryden Road.

With all of the improvements, the hospital made a commitment to getting input from its clinicians. And even in the patient rooms, which have been streamlined for comfort and a quiet atmosphere, nurses who deal with patients every day had the most input.

"Nobody knows better than the caregiver at the bedside how to give the patient safe and great care," Meeks said. "As a result of that, we have 60 rooms that all our clinicians love."

The attention to detail of the expansion has made for a more upbeat environment in the hospital, and Meeks said it's an exciting time to be at Mount Carmel St. Ann's.

"Over the course of a 30-year health-care career, you don't get to be a part of things like this very often," she said.