Dublin Methodist Hospital officials said a new 12-bed observation unit that opened in June has proven to enable the hospital to reduce the time patients remain in the hospital.

The average length of a patient stay previously was 36 hours and has decreased to 26 hours, said Eddie Umphries, administrative nurse manager. Because patients pay per hour for hospital care, that is an average of $1,150 in savings, he said.

The observation unit is part of an expansion and renovation project recently completed at the hospital.

The $20 million project began in fall 2018 and ended this past summer, said Sherrie Valentine, director of women's health.

The work added 30,000 square feet to the hospital and renovated about 5,000 square feet, said Marcus Thorpe, media-relations senior consultant with OhioHealth.

The observation unit was part of the addition, Umphries said, and was added because the hospital wanted to make care more affordable and efficient.

Prior to the addition of the unit, patients undergoing observation to determine if a longer hospital stay would be necessary needed to stay with other patients in one of four in-patient units in the hospital, Umphries said.

Now patients undergoing observation are in one place and medical staff members have 23 hours in which to determine whether they should go home or remain in the hospital for additional care, Umphries said. The patients also are prioritized for such lab tests as blood work, X-rays and ultrasounds, he said.

While the streamlined observation of patients was one facet of the hospital project, another focus was on care for mothers giving birth.

Valentine said the project added eight postpartum beds and one labor-delivery room to the second floor, bringing the number of postpartum beds to 27 and delivery rooms to 10.

The additional space was needed to accommodate growth at the hospital, Valentine said.

"We recognized that we needed additional postpartum beds to support our delivery volumes," she said.

There are about 2,800 births at the hospital every year, Valentine said.

Since it opened, Dublin Methodist has developed a reputation as a maternity destination for the community, and women have sought providers who deliver in Dublin, she said, so it was important occupancy met consumer demand.

Now that the hospital project is complete, a $4.5 million renovation is underway at the OhioHealth Physician Group Primary Care office at 250 W. Bridge St.

Construction began in December and is expected to last until April. The building will be operational as construction continues, Thorpe said.

New staffing for the building will include two physicians, one advanced-practice provider (a term for a provider that could include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and others) and four associates, said Joseph Campana, director of practice and development with the OhioHealth Physician Group.

The building's first floor includes a four-physician general practice now, Campana said.

After renovation, the first floor will be a 20-room primary-practice designed for growth and improved clinical workflow.

Additional services also will be offered as part of the first-floor primary-care practice, Campana said, in the areas of behavioral health, diabetes and high blood pressure.

A nurse also will be available to follow up with patients who have been discharged from hospitals and emergency departments, he said.

In addition to enhancing an existing outpatient lab on the second floor, OhioHealth will add a 14-room outpatient pulmonary-care practice and an X-ray machine, Campana said.