Top-down transformation of NHRMC patient tower begins with opening of first two renovated patient floors

June 19, 2009
WILMINGTON – On June 27 and 28 patients on two of New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s inpatient floors will move to the top of the medical center’s signature patient tower and find a setting dramatically different from what they left. The ninth and tenth floors are the first of the patient floors to be renovated. The other seven floors will be renovated, two at a time, until complete in December 2010.

The new units provide patients the ideal setting in which to benefit from the latest advances in medical care and technology while receiving the support of family in the comfortable and quiet environment they need to heal. Each of the newly renovated floors offers 364 private rooms and 9 larger rooms that can be made semi-private only if needed. Within each room, family members will have room to stay, with recliners or sleep sofas and access to wireless Internet service via their laptops. Each floor also has a dedicated family kitchen.

“We recognize and value the role family members play in the healing process” said Mary Ellen Bonczek, RN, NHRMC Chief Nurse Executive. “Not only do they provide support and lift spirits, they become part of the caregiving team by participating in discussions of treatment options and learning how to help their loved ones after they leave the hospital.”

Contact between caregivers and patients is also enhanced through the design and the addition of new technology. Each room has a bedside computer so physicians and nurses can access the patient’s chart, test results, and care plans while in the room. This will help provide more opportunity for discussing progress and for answering concerns. Once the nurse leaves the room, the patient can easily contact her through call bells that connect directly to the nurse’s cell phone, rather than being transferred to a central station.

Instead of one large open nursing and business center on each floor, decentralized nursing stations spaced around the hallways also help keep nurses nearer to their patients. The business center for staff and physicians to work and collaborate is enclosed so the sound of activity doesn’t disturb patients. Newly carpeted hallways further dampen the sounds.

“This model of unit is already in place in the new Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital,” explained Bonczek. “Our patients there repeatedly tell us how wonderfully peaceful it is.”

In addition to the noticeable changes to the paint, flooring, cabinetry and lighting, the new units also have new electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems with thermostats allowing patients to control the temperature in their rooms. New windows that withstand 130 mph winds are also being installed.

The renovation of the patient tower is part of the master facility plan approved by NHRMC’s Board of Trustees in August 2005. The plan also included the opening of a Surgical Pavilion in June 2008 and the addition of the Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital in September 2008. The costs have been funded through bonds, hospital operations and community contributions through the NHRMC Foundation.

“The people of this community came together more than 40 years ago to build this hospital and care for each other,” said Jack Barto, NHRMC President and CEO. “It is our duty and honor to take their vision and move it forward. Everyone who has worked here or supported these efforts can be proud of what is being done to advance care for our current and future neighbors.”