A $21 million expansion to Hutchinson Health will open for patients Tuesday.

The 18,000-square-foot addition included new, larger patient rooms to accommodate medical equipment and visitors, and make it easier for staff to offer bedside care without disruption.

Construction began in the spring of 2019. Original predictions placed the first patients in the room in July 2020. The original rooms constructed in 1968 are about 150 square feet and weren’t designed to hold the amount of equipment used today. The new rooms are 300 square feet. Slightly larger intensive cares rooms are near other patient rooms, allowing staff to be more flexible.

The transition into the new wing happens swiftly through a short hallway off the hospital's main lobby.

"The process went wonderfully. We had great collaboration between contractors and local businesses, all those involved in the process," said Glen Kegley, Hutchinson Health's chief operating officer. "After we broke ground and began construction, we had a very wet spring in 2019 and had some initial delays. But through some aggressive rescheduling and additional evening and weekend work, we were able to catch up time. We had another wet fall in 2019, lost some ground there and were able to make that up as well."

The COVID-19 pandemic offered a few distractions as the hospital focused on its response, but it did not slow down the overall construction process.

"This is really a significant upgrade of our existing facility," said James Lyons, president of Hutchinson Health. "We'll replace a fair amount of the inpatient space we've used previously. It is a little bit smaller in terms of number of rooms, but that has not been our limiting factor in the past. Our limiting factor has been staffing. This space is adequate in size for the number of patients we see with rooms that are double in size."

He anticipates a better experience for patients, and looks at the construction as a long-term investment. Work also included an update to water, electrical and other systems to support the new space and the rest of the facility going forward.

"This is really setting us up," Lyons said.

Kegley said having space dedicated to family visits in patient rooms allows the family to take part in the important aspects of healing and therapy that will continue when the patient returns home. There are also dedicated family lounges in the new wing.

The rooms have wide, open windows to allow for more natural light, as do the two nurse stations designed to be easily accessed as a first point of contact for visitors. The stations also have a "nourishment station" for snacks and water. Adjacent huddle rooms provide a space for daily huddles among all medical disciplines to collaborate on patient care.

The patient rooms are all located in a loop around the outside of the new wing with the staff spaces in the center.

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