Greensburg hospital gets new features

01/23/2010 12:00 AM

01/23/2010 12:08 AM

GREENSBURG — In just a few weeks, one of Greensburg's most recognizable community landmarks will reopen.

The Kiowa County Memorial Hospital won't be in the same location and it will look nothing like the 1950s-era hospital that was destroyed in the May 4, 2007, tornado.

The new hospital, while smaller, will offer the services it did before the tornado, with the exception of a behavioral health department, which has moved to Kinsley.

It also will boast new services — an employee day care center and space for a third-party retail pharmacy.

Like many of the buildings in Greensburg, the hospital has been built to LEED Platinum standards, the highest-rated certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

The hospital is built mainly of pre-cast concrete. It includes a lot of glass — including banks of windows on the outer walls and an upper level "clear story" that brings in light.

Interior rooms feature glass walls that allow sunlight to filter through to the center of the building, including the basement.

Not only does the natural lighting make the hospital feel more cheerful, it has a positive effect on patients.

"The American Hospital Association did a study on patients after surgery," hospital administrator Mary Sweet said. "Those recovering in lighted rooms needed 22 percent less pain medication than those recovering in darker rooms."

The hospital's 10 patient rooms are arranged on the southern wall of the hospital, each with a floor-to-ceiling window.

Architects with the Health Facilities Group designed the building.

The new hospital also addresses many of the challenges of the old hospital.

"The tornado was bad, but it enabled us to do things we've always wanted to do," Sweet said.

Before the tornado, the Kiowa County Rural Health Clinic was across the street but is now in the hospital building. It contains five doctors' offices and seven exam rooms, including one built to ADA standards that features a barrier-free exam table, which lowers to 18 inches.

The layout also addresses privacy concerns by placing the nurses' station on the opposite side of the clinic from the waiting room.

The main nurses' station sits between the emergency department and patient rooms, which allows staff to tend to both areas. In the old hospital, the two areas were on opposite sides of the building.

The day care center includes plenty of room to run and is decorated with bright colors.

"We have really enjoyed having the day care and have already had to apply for a license to handle more kids," Sweet said. "Plus, it helps with staff relations. There is something special about watching each other's kids grow up."

The day care also has become somewhat of a draw for new employees, Sweet said. Prior to the tornado, the hospital used the services of a physical therapist who traveled around the region and was only in Greensburg twice a week; now it has a full-time therapist.

Also new is a specialty clinic, which includes four exam rooms outfitted for specialists who regularly visit — including a dentist, optometrist and cardiologist.

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