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Wesley Medical Center planning upgrades to women’s care units

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, at 6:28 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, March 1, 2013, at 6:52 a.m.

Wesley Medical Center is preparing for an 18-month-long renovation of its women’s care units.

Construction on the $36 million project is slated to begin in June.

With Wesley delivering more than 6,000 babies a year, the project will pose some logistical challenges.

“We will just have to go with the flow. It’s going to be rough for a while, but it’s worth it,” said Nancy Watkins, a nurse in the postpartum unit who has worked at Wesley for 26 years. “I think patients will be happier.”

The renovation will affect postpartum and antepartum units of the hospital. The 65,000-square-foot project on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the hospital includes renovating 65 existing rooms and adding 16 rooms. Hallways and public spaces are also part of the project.

Construction is slated to be completed in two phases in an effort to minimize the inconvenience to patients, said Cindy Harmon, registered nurse and interim nursing director for Women’s, Infants and Children’s Services.

“We will be looking to make the transition as simple as possible with little disruption to patients,” Harmon said. “We’re hoping that with two phases, it will decrease the noise.”

With additional rooms at the end of the project, she said they may hire additional staff.

For now, staffing logistics will be more about distribution as some patients will be housed in different areas during construction.

Currently, Wesley holds postpartum mothers on the third and fifth floors of the hospital.

Women who have not yet given birth and women’s surgery patients are on the fourth floor, Harmon said.

During the project, postpartum patients from the affected units may also be housed on the fourth floor of the medical arts tower.

However, high-risk and antepartum patients will remain in the main building so they can be closer to labor and delivery.

The birth care center across the street will also be used for additional beds if needed, Harmon said.

Those rooms are currently for patients who are admitted and stay through delivery and recovery until they go home.

Harmon said the renovation is driven by patient demand and expectations.

“Women’s services is a big portion of what we provide here. … It’s important for us to put these resources into that service line,” she said.

The hospital’s labor and delivery rooms, which are on the second floor, were renovated about four years ago.

Harmon said the rooms have had new tile and wallpaper as needed over the years, but she doesn’t think those units have ever had a complete remodel.

The hospital has tried to incorporate input from staff and patients during the planning process, she said, and the new finishings will be modern and have lighter, natural colors.

“We’re really looking at colors and furniture that are going to be welcoming to the female population,” Harmon said.

Renderings show additional storage options including wardrobes and new furniture, like couches that convert to beds that have underneath storage for family members who stay the night.

The project will also add security doors to the floors so that they can be locked down in emergencies.

Some rooms will also have mini refrigerators, Harmon said.

Central heating and air will also be added to all rooms and desktops will be built into nooks where window heating and air units currently sit.

Harmon said Wesley is also considering ways it can centralize more women’s services, including things like mammograms, a breast care center, imaging services and cardiovascular services specific to women.

Wesley has hired JE Dunn Construction out of Nashville, Tenn., for the project.

The contractor met with local subcontractors Thursday afternoon, hospital officials said.

Project architect is Gould Turner Group, which is also based in Nashville.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com.

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