Joplin hospital not hit by twister adds rooms

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — The Joplin hospital that avoided a direct hit from a deadly tornado is adding rooms to meet demand.

The Joplin Globe reported (http://bit.ly/oXITPm) that work was proceeding this week on the top two floors of the Gary and Donna Hall Tower at Freeman Hospital West, where 58 new patient rooms are being created.

Jeffrey Carrier, Freeman chief nursing officer, said the construction cost is $10 million, with an additional $4 million to $5 million in equipment costs.

The patient load increased dramatically at Freeman after the May 22 tornado struck St. John's Regional Medical Center, just north of Freeman.

"Since May 22, our average daily census has increased by 15 percent to 25 percent," Carrier said. "That's 40 to 60 additional patients each day. This is our response to that growing demand."

Carrier said it's fortunate the hospital had flexible space it could use for patients. Work on the fourth floor is scheduled to wrap up in April while work on the sixth floor will conclude in July.

Previously, the fifth floor was being used for storage. After the remodeling is completed, it will have 29 private rooms that feature medical-surgical beds.

The sixth floor, which has been used for storage and offices, will be transformed into a space with 16 medical-surgical beds and 13 surgical-intensive care unit beds. Carrier said those rooms also will be private rooms.

Carrier described the rooms as "very spacious." They will feature larger showers, high-definition televisions and warmer colors to give them a more homey appearance.

"What's really neat is we got patient involvement in designing the rooms," Carrier said. He said that was done through patient satisfaction surveys and patients serving on a design team.


Information from: The Joplin Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

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