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A room for one

Boone Hospital’s planned upgrade includes a new patient tower and a change to all private rooms
Saturday, March 10, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:18 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

In keeping with a national trend, Boone Hospital Center is on its way to replacing semiprivate rooms with all-private ones.

The transition will occur as plans unfold to build a $120 million “patient tower.” The five-story addition will include a new intensive care unit and will add 128 private rooms to the county-owned hospital.

By the numbers

  • 128: private rooms to be added
  • 188: semiprivate rooms currently
  • 364: the total number of private rooms by 2010
  • $120 million: to build patient tower
  • $100 milion: financed by revenue bonds issued by Boone County government
  • $20 million: financed by hospital profits

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Boone Hospital currently has 188 semiprivate beds in rooms that will be converted into private rooms. Kyle Sheafer, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the time of the transition depends on the opening date of the tower, “but we probably will phase them in.”

Once the new tower is completed — it’s expected to be up and running no later than 2010 — the hospital will have a total of 364 private rooms.

“We are still at an early stage, but we are moving forward with the plans,” said Barbara Weaver, chairwoman of the hospital’s board of trustees. “We need more beds, and we are moving towards an all-private facility because it is what the patients want.”

For the past several years, hospitals have been replacing semiprivate rooms with all-private ones, said Tom Piper, director certificate of need at Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Patient demand and infection control are driving the change, Piper said, noting that private rooms make it easier for hospitals to prevent the spread of infections.

Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City completed its renovations with all-private rooms last year, and St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis has a situation similar to the one at Boone.

“We are a busy hospital and we need to expand,” said Don Kalicak, vice president of business development at St John’s. “We are building a nine-story bed tower that will add 216 beds.”

Kerry Cheung, an architect with Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, Inc., said private rooms allow family members to stay with their loved one without intruding on others. Her firm specializes in designing and building health care facilities.

Research has found that patients heal better and faster in private rooms because of factors such as reduced medical errors, less risk of falling and the possibility of family staying overnight, Cheung said.

The American Institute of Architects updated its guidelines for hospitals in 2004. The guidelines say that every new building a hospital wants to build must have all-private beds unless there are special circumstances for hospitals to offer semiprivate rooms, Cheung said. Any special circumstances must be approved by the state, she said.

“I think it is generally accepted that there are less germs spreading when patients have private rooms,” said Scott Frank, a member of the Health Guidelines Revision Committee for the Institute of Architects. “Data indicates that there is a lesser risk for falls and there is less need for patient transfers.

“Hospitals are transferring a large number of patients every day because of complaints about loud noises or other disturbances when they share rooms,” Frank said. “These guidelines are used by all architects who work with hospital facilities and also by state governments.”

The expansion at Boone Hospital is set to begin in August with construction of a four-story parking garage at Bass Avenue and William Street. Construction on the bed tower is expected to begin after the garage is finished in the summer of 2008.

“We are currently conducting a traffic study to see how the increased traffic will affect the neighborhood,” Weaver said.

Robert McDavid, vice chairman of the board of trustees, said the hospital is also looking at whether to build a sixth and possibly seventh floor as part of the tower project for future needs.

The additional floors would cost $6 million to $12 million, and trustees are weighing the merits of building those floors as part of the tower project or building them later.

“We are expecting a certain population growth in Boone County and, at the same time, the population is getting older,” McDavid said. “We are in need of more space, and we have already had situations where we have been forced to divert acute referrals because of lack of space.”

The estimated $120 million cost would be financed with $100 million of revenue bonds issued by Boone County government. The remaining $20 million would come from hospital profits controlled by the board of trustees.

Hospital trustees in December signed a new lease with BJC HealthCare to continue managing the hospital. Under the new lease, 50 percent of hospital profits are designated for capital projects such as the patient tower.

“We would have been able to build the tower before the new lease but it would have taken longer time,” Weaver said. “The new commitments made by BJC enabled us to move ahead a lot quicker.”

The master facility planning committee is working to finalize the plans to present to trustees for final approval Monday. The board will also meet with city planning officials, Stephens College administrators and neighborhood associations. The plan must also be approved by the board of directors at BJC HealthCare.


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