Palos Community to open new Hospitaller wing next month

PCH builds toward all-private rooms

By Jeff Vorva

Palos Community Hospital will soon take its private rooms public.

The facility is just about complete with the first phase of a two –part project that will expand the patient rooms to 306 and they will all be private.

The first phase is the erection of a seven-story, 400,000- square-foot east wing addition known as the Hospitaller Pavilion. The public is invited to take a tour of the new digs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 3. Call 226-2300 in advance to take the tour.

After the new wing opens March 19, the second phase will begin in June when the 190,000 square foot original hospital will have all of its rooms converted to private patient rooms.

The hospital industry is gearing toward more private rooms and the Palos Heights facility is following that trend.

"There has been an emphasis for private patient rooms," Palos Community Hospital Director of Public Relations Jim Sibley said during a recent tour he gave to the media. "It helps in a number of ways clinically. It's much quieter. There is less chance of infection. You're nursing care is almost one-to-one. It's much more family friendly if you are coming to visit someone. Your family is more welcome into the room and they are more comfortable.

"The whole experience has changed. It's becoming the norm. It just makes good sense."

But the hospital isn't parting with $400 million just to build a few new rooms.

Palos Community is also investing on some of the newest technology in healthcare.

It will boast of having a stateof- the-art Intensive Care Unit. There will be a Center for Short Stay Care with a single point entry for outpatients. There will be 14 operating rooms, including one which will feature daVinci robotics. Another will feature a Hybrid Room which "becomes a one-stop shop for patients requiring interventional radiological, vascular, cardiac and orthopaedic procedures, thereby reducing surgical time and lowering any inherent risks" according to the hospital's promotional material.

The hospital also plans to expand on its Emergency Room as well.

While there are some obvious impressive technological gizmos that can dazzle, Sibley pointed out some of the subtle changes in the new wing. For instance, in the hallways, the lighting comes from the upper sides of the walls.

"It's not coming from the ceiling, so lights aren't shining in patients' eyes when they are being transported in the hallway," he said.

Even the patient's call buttons to the nurses are being upgraded. For instance, there is a button requesting water on the new device.

"It used to be that a patient would hit the button and the nurse would come in and then have to go back and get the water," Sibley said. "This way, the nurse can come in with the water and save time."

Family waiting areas will be designed for more comfort and wireless Internet capabilities will be available.

To prepare for the switch to the new wing, approximately 300 staff members will participate in a Day in the Life event this Sunday in which they will participate in 100 scenarios and tests. Mock situations will include a patient undergoing a total knee replacement and an endoscopy procedure. Each scenario will have a director and timekeeper.

According to information supplied by the hospital, the facility had 17,960 admissions in 2012 for a total of 77,788 patient days. There were 952 births, 47,415 visits to the emergency room, 32,767 immediate care center visits, 4,520 same-day surgical procedures and 3,761 inpatient surgical procedures.

Palos Community employs 2,993 including 551 physicians.

Sibley said the hospital's expansion will have a positive effect on the local economy. The equivalent of 164 full time construction jobs have been created with 850,000 construction man hours worked.