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July 8, 2015 - Third floor renovations: USA Medical Center boasts updated patient rooms
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If you’d like to see into the future of the University of South Alabama Medical Center — at least the future of its patient rooms – visit the third floor in the space that once housed an area known as Our Neighborhood Clinic.

That spot now boasts three patient rooms that have been redecorated and freshened up with new color palettes, new furnishings and new configurations — all designed to help patients improve more quickly in more comfortable surroundings.

These renovations include bigger doorways, an accessible shower with a seat, grab bars in the bathroom and between the restroom and bed, and a new, larger bed, said Lawrence Gardner, director of facilities management at the Medical Center.

"Our 1962 architectural footprint for patient rooms simply did not have space for this,” Gardner said. “This renovation allowed us to go in with a new canvas.” 

The changes also make the rooms ideal for patients who’ve recently had bariatric surgery, Gardner noted. Since that service is on the third floor, so these rooms are particularly well placed within the hospital.

The rooms also feature updated amenities including a wardrobe with space to hang clothing, a flat-screen television, new bedside furniture, and more comfortable furnishings for family and caregivers.

The overall ambiance is improved, he said, with a new color palette, updated flooring, counter tops and other details.

Other changes also will improve the patient experience, Gardner said. For example, when the hospital was built, walls between patient rooms extended just above ceiling height. When these rooms were renovated, walls were extended to the floor deck above, helping to prevent noise transmitting from other rooms, providing a better overall experience, Gardner said.

Changes to the room configuration also narrowed the room entryway slightly, giving patients a bit more privacy.

It’s a far cry from the original plan, typical of the 1960s, when virtually all rooms had two beds and some had four, Gardner said. “Today, in the marketplace for quality customer service, expectations are private rooms.”

The renovated rooms are “the new base plan for what we anticipate in the future as we’re able to modernize patient rooms,” said Gardner.

However, room renovations seldom make it to the top of the funding priority list, he said. Instead, facilities funds tend to go for required projects — such as adding fire protection sprinkler systems, updating operating rooms, or adding the latest technology for diagnostic equipment.

As funds are made available, look for additional amenities for patients and their families and a fresh new look.  “Every one of these projects is a piece of the puzzle,” Gardner said. “We’re working to get it done as we can afford to.”

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