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Via Christi launches private room upgrade project

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, June 7, 2012, at 12 a.m.

Via Christi Health has begun a $20 million project to create more private rooms at its two biggest local hospitals, Via Christi Hospital on Harry and Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis.

Art Huber, vice president of facilities for Via Christi Wichita Health Network, said when complete the projects will mean 90 private rooms at the Harry hospital and about 350 at the St. Francis hospital.

Work has started at the Harry hospital, where workers are prepping by first addressing items such as electrical and air handling for the private-room conversion.

The conversion from semi-private to private rooms in existing buildings also requires changes and upgrades to electrical and other systems, Huber said, which adds significant costs to the project.

“That building at east Harry is almost 40 years old,” Huber said. Work on the Harry hospital is expected to be complete by early 2014.

The conversion to private rooms at St. Francis is expected to start by the end of June, Huber said. Because that involves more than three times as many rooms than at Harry, completion there isn’t expected until mid-2016.

The start of the projects is the culmination of about a year and a half’s work on a master plan for Via Christi’s Wichita hospitals. That plan addressed not only conversion to private patient rooms but also relocating other patient-care units and non-patient care operations to new floors within both hospitals. In some instances, Huber said, private rooms will be located in areas once occupied by non-patient operations.

The general contractor for the St. Francis project is Hutton Construction and GLMV Architecture is the architect. At Harry, J.E. Dunn is the general contractor and the architects are Howard and Helmer Architecture and FreemanWhite of Charlotte, N.C., which also was the consultant on Via Christi’s master plan.

Via Christi’s move to convert to all private patient rooms is part of a larger trend across the country. Huber said a number of studies have shown that private rooms support better infection control, uninterrupted sleep patterns and promote family involvement in the care of a patient.

“It’s really contemporary medicine now,” Huber said. “That’s why almost anything new (in terms of hospitals) is being built that way.”

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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