ARTIST'S RENDERING - COURTESY OF SMPC ARCHITECTS
ALBUQUERQUE - Expanding on the birthing center that opened earlier this year at Lovelace Westside Hospital, an inpatient pediatric care unit will soon be taking shape and should be ready to start accepting patients by the first quarter of 2012.
"Work is expected to begin any day now," said Troy Greer, Lovelace Westside CEO.
It's a natural progression as the hospital continues to expand its services, he said.
"It is sort of the next logical step," Greer said. "Obviously the labor and delivery program met a big need for our community and this is the next step as well. And that is to address the needs of being able to admit pediatric patients in the Rio Rancho and western Albuquerque market."
The 2,200-square-foot, five-room unit on the hospital's second floor will be a first in the area, he said.
"It's part of a global strategy that began for the Lovelace Health System when they reopened this hospital in 2002," Greer said. "They have been extremely supportive of the Lovelace Westside facility and the people of the West Side as well as Rio Rancho to continue to add services to meet their needs."
The unit also will include a dedicated nurses' station, a common play room and a separate treatment room.
"When you enter the unit, it's the nurse station surrounded by the five additional rooms," he said. "Then there's a children's play area - an extra room to allow the patients to be able to get out of their actual room and play. We'll have some amenities to entertain them in there.
"We have some treatment areas to allow them to receive some treatment outside of their room so that the negative experience is sort of diverted to a different area," Greer added. "We want them to be as comfortable as possible and address their emotional needs of our children."
Each of the patient rooms is private and will be equipped with convertible beds to allow one or both parents to stay with the child.
"It's very similar to what we did in our labor and delivery unit," he said. "We will encourage parental and family involvement in terms of flexibility of visiting hours and making sure that the social side of the patients' care is addressed to the full satisfaction of the families and those that are admitted here."
The work and additional medical equipment is expected to cost about $750,000, Greer said.
"I would describe it more as a remodel," he said of the conversion. "It will not be an extensive renovation in terms of having to move walls. It will be brought up, cosmetically, to what people would expect to see today. But more importantly is the investment in pediatric equipment and bringing in the newest and latest and greatest in technology for the children that will be utilizing this unit."
Officials expect the new unit will be used for:
The average length of stay is expected to be less than three days.
Officials have been pondering the move for several years, Greer said.
"We are constantly evaluating demographics data and utilization patterns to make sure that we offering those services that our community needs," he said. "We have been assessing as a system the need for pediatrics in terms of inpatient services, or even our observation unit over at women's hospital. It's been assessed for approximately for a year now in terms of making a decision of when to build, but it's something we've been monitoring for a period of time, I would say several years."
The work that will be done by The Hawkins Group is expected to employ about 30 people and once it is complete, it will create 8½ full-time nursing jobs.
Source: Rio Rancho Observer