Another floor of the University of Kentucky’s Chandler Hospital Pavilion A will open this weekend, but that does not mean work is finished at UK HealthCare.
The grand opening of the 11th floor will provide new, state of the art cancer care, an expansion for the Markey Cancer Center from one wing of the hospital to the next. The 63 private rooms are centered around Markey’s bone marrow transplant department, along with surgical oncology.
“We’ve tried to make it very patient-centered,” said Nina Barnes, Markey’s nursing coordinator. That means larger rooms for more complex equipment and many more accommodations for the family members who often have to stay with loved ones as they go through cancer treatment, such as a new family kitchen and a laundry area. There’s also a general room for people who need to get work done as they stay with family. Families can stay in a separate bedroom, or stay with their patient in a new room that’s more like a hotel suite.
“We’ve been working on it for a year, and we’re really excited,” Barnes said.
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UK HealthCare got help from members of the hospital’s patient advisory group. “We are listening intently about how to best meet their needs,” said Colleen Swartz, the chief nurse executive of UK HealthCare.
But that doesn’t mean that Markey’s original space will be closed. Originally, UK officials thought the tower could actually replace space in the 1960s-era Chandler hospital. But, instead, renovations continue throughout.
“Every time we’ve moved, demand is so high, we’ve been unable to close the rooms behind us,” Swartz said.
The patient tower project began in 2004 with an estimated cost of $400 million and an original completion date of 2009. Now it’s a $1 billion project, and there no longer is a completion date. Still left to outfit are the 5th and 12th floors of the tower. Officials are still working on what will go on those floors. On average it’s cost about $35 million to outfit each floor.
“The principle philosophy was to provide a facility to meet the healthcare needs of the commonwealth,” said Eric Monday, executive vice-president of finance and administration. “The demand has always been very aggressive, so we have worked very hard to look at capacity and how to best meet the capacity needs we have. As we think about different strategies beyond Pavilion A, it’s all within the context of how to best serve the commonwealth.”
For example, UK bought Good Samaritan Hospital with thoughts of tearing it down. But patient demand has kept it open, and UK recently completed a renovation of the emergency room.
The UK Board of Trustees recently approved $150 million out of hospital reserves to pay for the 11th floor, a new operating room and the ongoing NICU renovation at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Next week, they’ll ask the board to allow them to float bonds for that money instead.
“That would free up additional money for UK HealthCare to use as our healthcare strategy continues to evolve,” Monday said.