COLUMBIA – The $89.2 million, eight-story patient tower at Boone Hospital Center will admit its first patient Monday.
The project has been under construction for three years as an effort to improve patient care and safety by making all 128 rooms private.
Before the tower was built, less than half of the rooms in the hospital were private. With the new tower, 78 percent of the hospital's rooms have been designed for just one patient.
Mary Beck, the vice president of patient care services, said all rooms in the hospital will be private within five years.
Since 2006, the transition to private rooms has become a national trend. That's when the American Insitute of Architects recommended that hospitals convert to private rooms to help curb infectious diseases and medical errors.
The institute found that patients in private rooms recover more quickly and are less prone to misidentification by hospital staff. According to the American Hospital Association, single-occupancy rooms also reduce the length of patient stays.
Hospitals in Columbia are following this trend. At University Hospital, 132 of the 194 rooms — 68 percent — are private.
At the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, 16 private patient rooms opened in May 2010. The new Women and Children's Hospital on Keene Street opened in September with all private rooms.
Matt Splett, a spokesman for MU Health Care, said a $203 million Patient Care Tower at University Hospital is under construction. Its 90 private rooms are scheduled to open in spring 2013.
The top two floors of University Hospital, left vacant after Children's Hospital moved, are being renovated to add 72 private rooms.
Boone Hospital Center plans to convert the old medical surgery units, abandoned after the move to the new tower, into private patient rooms, Beck said. This will complete the hospital's transition, she said.
To accommodate overnight stays by family members in the new wing, a sofa in each room extends into a twin bed.
“The more the family’s here, the more the patient will remember,” Beck said. “When the patient goes home, they’ll have a better transition.”
The beds themselves, called “smart beds,” can be programmed to help the hospital staff provide better care.
“If a patient has pneumonia, the bed has to be positioned at 30 degrees,” Beck said. “If the nurse exits the room and the bed’s only at 25 degrees, the bed will alert the nurse.”
A touch-screen computer will sit to the patient's left with information about the patient's condition and treatment.
“If you’re going to have surgery or a procedure, it can answer all of your questions,” Beck said. “If you still have questions, you push a button, and it lets a nurse know.”
The nurse’s work stations have been altered, as well. Instead of just one central desk, each floor has five decentralized stations to put staff physically closer to patients.
“That’s a pretty big shift from what we’ve had for years,” said hospital spokesman Jacob Luecke.
Beck emphasized the hospital’s effort to put sinks at every door, reinforcing a “wash-in, wash-out” policy.
“One of the important things is infection prevention,” Beck said. “That’s a big reason to have all private rooms — safety.”
On the ground floor, the new tower has a conference room and individualized registration stations.
"We know this tower will help us provide better care for decades to come," Luecke said.