DECATUR — HSHS St. Mary's Hospital has begun a $9 million renovation to its intensive care unit, work that will double the space and make it easier for families to be together with patients.

The goals of the project include providing more space and a better arrangement for the ICU, so families can be near their loved ones, an important part of the healing process, Chief Nursing Officer Michelle Oliver said.

Renovations are expected to take nine months, with a projected opening of Sept. 9, said Tim DeGarmo, director of facilities. Work began in December.

The hospital is also expected to break ground in early spring on a nearly $13 million medical office building to house HSHS Medical Group specialists, according to CEO Joan Coffman.

The renovated ICU space will be more than double the size of the current ICU, with the same number of patient rooms. The new space will be 13,500 square feet versus the current unit of 6,100 square feet. The rooms will double in size to about 360 square feet, and each room will have a recliner for family members to sleep in to stay with the patient, he said.

“It is going to create a much nicer healing environment for our patients,” DeGarmo said. “The environment will be upgraded aesthetically to be much more healing.”

There will be three nurses' stations spread out throughout the area to ensure the nurses can view the patients at all times to ensure their safety and care, DeGarmo said.

“It will be a really nice family waiting room with all the amenities to make it comfortable,” he said. “It is going to be a nicer environment for the families as well.”

Another addition will be a sleeping room, a lounge and locker room for physicians and nurses who are on call in the ICU, which DeGarmo said will help the work environment for health care providers and provide better care for patients. 

The current ICU is on the second floor and is original to the building, DeGarmo said. The new ICU location is on the fourth floor in the old rehab gymnasium space. The location had not been changed much in the past 58 years, he said.

The renovation work is being completed by local company Christy-Foltz Inc. The design was influenced by other upgraded ICU units throughout the Hospital Sisters Health System, DeGarmo said.

The nurses were included in the process to share their expertise about the best and most efficient way to set up the ICU, Oliver said.

“The nurses are excited about it, the physicians are excited about it,” Oliver said. “It will make sure the patients have the whole team around them to care for them.”

The nurses sat in on the planning and can experience the new size of the rooms in a mock-up room in the hospital. 

“It is exciting,” said Coffman, who was appointed in August “It is about enhancing the patient experience in our ICU.”

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