Renovations aim to make facility 'hospital of choice'

A sea of silver greets visitors inside Mount Carmel East’s new lobby, where gray armchairs and couches sit atop a long expanse of white tile and silver-white carpeting leading to a two-sided glass fireplace.

Hanging from the ceiling are more than two dozen silver doves, elements of artist Zachary Oxman’s sculpture, “Soaring Pathways.”

The new lobby opens May 4, part of a $310 million modernization project that began in 2015.

It’s where a concrete turnaround fronted the old hospital entrance and leads to a new 5-story tower with 300,000 square feet of patient-care space, including 128 private rooms and a surgical suite with 13 expanded operating rooms.

The new patient tower will open in June; patients are scheduled to be moved in June 2 and 3.

Michael Wilkins, president and chief operating officer of Mount Carmel East, said the east-campus renovations are part of a more than $700 million project to expand, modernize and revitalize three hospitals in the Mount Carmel Health System — Mount Carmel East, Mount Carmel Grove City and Mount Carmel West.

“We want to solidify our position as the hospital of choice,” Wilkins said. “Our reasons for the expansion were focused around patient privacy, safety and patient care.

“All of our patient rooms will be private — no more shared, semiprivate rooms,” he said. “We want people to have space for family to visit; plus, a private room provides more effective infection control.”

In the new tower, expanded heart-care and intensive-care units increase the number of critical-care beds by 50 percent, Wilkins said.

The design includes a state-of-the-art pneumatic tube system to transport soiled linens and contaminated materials to another part of the building, eliminating the need to push heavy bins of soiled material through hospital hallways.

Wilkins said an extra-large elevator — what staff members call a “megavator” — can accommodate a trauma patient and all the rolling devices and monitors that might be needed, along with doctors and nurses who are caring for the patient.

Tara Williams, director of medical surgical services and critical care, said each intensive-care and surgical patient room in the new tower is about 450 square feet, with bathroom space, a couch and chair to accommodate visitors. Patient rooms in the original tower were as small as 300 square feet, she said.

Glass-fronted rooms and multiple nursing stations allow nurses to more easily care for critical patients, Williams.

“They include lifts in the ceiling above each bed, to more easily lift patients, along with locked pass-throughs to let us put supplies into cabinets in the rooms without disturbing patients,” she said.

She said the rooms are large enough to allow dialysis equipment to be brought to patients instead of having to transport patients when they need dialysis.

The new operating rooms are 600 to 700 square feet and include three mounted digital flat-screen monitors to transmit surgeries live to student doctors or to quickly communicate information to staff members.

A nurse with 21 years experience, Williams said she finds the modernization is “exciting.”

“I love that it is a holistic, healing space for patients,” she said. “From a nursing perspective, you get the best of both worlds. This new design and new space will revolutionize patient care.”

Wilkins said Mount Carmel East would end up with 400 all-private rooms after the modernization is completed sometime in 2019.

Staff members were included in all aspects of the design, he said.

“It was a team sport to design this building,” Wilkins said. “Three weeks ago, we conducted what we called ‘a day in the life,’ where over 200 of us participated in clinical scenarios.

“It was not to test clinical knowledge but to evaluate how people would work in the new space,” he said.

Even Wilkins stepped in as a “patient” that day, he said.

“We ended up with 250 suggestions to improve workflow,” he said. “On May 17, we will do another simulation to test our changes. We want to provide safe, efficient patient care on day one.”

He said many designs in the modernized Mount Carmel East would be used at the Grove City campus, where a $355 million investment will expand the 1-year-old facility into a full-service hospital, ending with 500,000 square feet of inpatient hospital space and 120,000 square feet of medical office space.

Wilkins said Mount Carmel West’s inpatient operations would be transferred to Grove City. The 130-year-old old West campus in Franklinton will undergo a $46 million modernization to focus on primary, urgent and emergent care. It will include an emergency department open 24 hours a day and will provide room for the Mount Carmel College of Nursing to expand.

“In the end, all we are trying to do is to improve outcomes as well as patient care,” Wilkins said. “People make all the difference. We tried to build a physical plant to help our doctors and nurses do what they do every day, to help every one of our patients to reach better outcomes.”

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