LEWISBURG — Evangelical Community Hospital was scheduled to open its new Critical Care Unit (CCU) on June 15 as it closes out the historic PRIME project that resulted in a four-story hospital addition, modernized medical facilities and all new private patient rooms.

The CCU will be the new home and name of Evangelical’s Intensive Care Unit. The newly created space, built as part of PRIME’s second phase, measures at 11,830 square feet. It’s located inside the hospital’s original structure and adjoins the Intermediate Care Unit, formerly known as the Step-Down Unit, inside the PRIME addition.

Kendra Aucker, president and CEO, and Kelly Solomon, registered nurse and director of critical care and maternal child care, recently guided a tour for Valley media. Hospital staff members were also welcomed to tour the space.

“Going through COVID, we learned a lot. Our space was incredibly taxed. We were able to see what things we could do in the future to better accommodate our patients,” Solomon said of post-design suggestions by staff. “Listening to what our patients and families have told us in the past, they want to have space where they can visit with their family members and be a part of our care. We really are patient centered and family centered.”

The CCU features 12 spacious rooms, with private bathrooms, built for function, versatility and comfort. They’re single occupancy and measure between 300 to 400 square feet each. Current intensive care rooms measure at about 150 square feet, also for 12 patients.

The larger rooms allow more space for equipment, staff and family. The rooms are bathed in natural light from large windows. The flooring is specially colored to designate space for caregivers, patients and family. Pullout couches allow for family to stay at the hospital. Under loosened COVID-19 rules, the hospital allows two revolving visitors per patient.

Of the new rooms, 10 are negative pressure spaces to allow for patients afflicted with airborne diseases like COVID-19 to be isolated. The rooms have in-ceiling lifts with one room built larger than the others to accommodate patients who are severely obese.

Nursing staff, who are trained to serve either the CCU or Intermediate Care Unit, are provided alcoves between patient rooms where they can complete record-keeping and other tasks while easily monitoring patients through windows.

There’s a main desk for physicians and ancillary staff, a multi-disciplinary room for private talks with medical staff and patient relatives, accommodations for family and a suite for staff to decompress.

PRIME was announced in March 2018 as a $72 million project. The first phase was the 112,000-square-foot addition. One goal of the entire project was to convert all 132 existing patient beds into single-occupancy rooms, including 88 brand new rooms. The expansion opened to patients in October.

“COVID revealed to us the need to have private rooms and the need to have isolation rooms. If you were in the hospital for something that was non-COVID related, you didn’t want to be sharing a room with anybody,” Aucker said. “What we did do during COVID was adapt and add 10 of the rooms in this unit as negative pressure isolation rooms.”

“We were really fortunate to have decided to do this project not knowing about the pandemic and having started. and we were really fortunate to keep construction work on time. During COVID, I don’t know what we would have done had we not had the PRIME open and be able to move patients around,” Aucker said.

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