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Major expansions under way for area hospitals

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- When Jim Nichols' baby girl was born three months premature, all he wanted was to be near her.

Nichols was told by Cabell Huntington doctors that his daughter only had a 20 percent chance of living.

Spending many days and nights in the hospital, Nichols longed to be close to his daughter.

And while he was able to visit and hold her, there was not a private room for his family to share.

But that soon will change.

As part of major construction projects, Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center are renovating older buildings and adding new additions.

Cabell Huntington is months away from completing its North Patient Tower.

The tower, which will face Hal Greer Boulevard, will be 187,500 square feet and consist of five floors.

"We are really excited about it," said Brent Marsteller, president and CEO of Cabell Huntington Hospital. "Room sizes will be nice and much bigger. It is about patient comfort."

Not only will room sizes be bigger, but the 36 new rooms on the neonatal infant care floor will be private.

For folks like Nichols, a private room is a blessing.

"It would be real nice then," Nichols said. "You wouldn't have to worry about babies getting sick or your baby getting sick."

Dr. Renee Domanico, a neonatologist at Cabell Huntington, said the private rooms also will be equipped with better technology.

"We are a level three neonatal intensive care unit which takes care of the smallest babies," Domanico said. "This will enable the families to be there at all hours promoting the family to be a participant in their child's medical care."

The tower also will include a 44-bed emergency room area complete with 30 exam rooms.

"We are doubling the size of our ER," said Marsteller. "We are increasing the capacity of patients in rooms and limiting the time in the waiting area."

Marsteller said completion of the tower, which is scheduled for November, should bring in a moderate amount of new jobs to the area, including medical and janitorial staff.

St. Mary's Medical Center is also expanding with some renovations.

The highlight of their projects is a 34-bed intensive care unit.

Nancy Brumfield, clinical nurse manager of the surgical intensive care, said patients will see bigger rooms and better service.

"We have been very involved in the design of these rooms to meet the needs of the patient," Brumfield said. "It has really been a lot of work, but interesting and fun work. This has allowed us to realize how much work goes into providing the patients with what they need."

Assisting patients is clinical nurse manager of the medical intensive care Todd Jimison's number one concern.

He said the new intensive care area will also make waiting time more comfortable for the families of patients.

"There is going to be a designated area for the family," Jimison said. "It will provide large chairs, Internet access and telephone in each room."

The ICU will be complete with a new monitoring system, which will allow charting and watching patients more completely.

And the oncology unit will soon have all private rooms for patients.

Shirley Litchfield, lung cancer patient, was in a semi-private room for weeks while receiving treatment at St. Mary's. But the thought of a private room brings her a sense of comfort.

"Like when you have company that comes in, it doesn't bother other patients," Litchfield said. "I hear a lot of banging next door, but that is OK," Litchfield said. "I am just glad they are doing this."

The total project cost is an estimated $22 million and is expected to be complete by December, according to Tim Parnell, vice president support services for St. Mary's.

"The rooms are going to be 100 square feet larger," Parnell said. "It will accommodate the patient and the family members."

The room will also allow for medical professionals to work on both sides of the patient.

"The door opens are going to be larger, which will allow for better access," Parnell said. "We wanted to make sure we offered state-of-the-art design for our patients in the present and our patients in the future."

The new waiting rooms are also designed to comfort families. It will include a refreshment area, lockers and showers.

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