The media got a glimpse Friday of the new Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital facility that’s been nearly four years in the making, and the public will get the chance to see for themselves during tours scheduled for this weekend.
Open house events for the public will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
On Friday, about two dozen people were given a comprehensive tour of the new facility, checking out patient and intensive-care rooms, an operating room, the new birthing center and even the helipad on top of the building that will allow trauma patients to be received at the hospital.
Beginning in the hospital’s new lobby, Cottage Health System president Ron Werft talked about the changes that the new facility will bring to patient care.
“This really is our community’s hospital,” he said, adding that the facility is “highly patient-oriented.”
Officials say the new hospital also aims to embody a “healing environment.” Local artists contributed to more than 1,200 works of art displayed prominently throughout the facility, and a healing arts program allowed philanthropic gifts to purchase the works. A “river of life” also streams through the hospital’s lush inner courtyard, where outdoor seating is available for the cafeteria.
Many of the impressive aesthetic changes are an added bonus to the real reason for the overhaul. In 1994, state legislators authored a bill mandating that acute care hospitals be retrofitted or rebuilt to withstand — and function after — a magnitude-6 earthquake.
The hospital has been working toward that goal since 2005 in a seven-phase process. The newest facility’s completion is only phase four, but other buildings on the property will have to be demolished and rebuilt, and the entire project is expected to be done by 2017.
Although California mandated the changes, it left hospitals on their own for funding. Cottage Health System’s $700 million for the project came from a mix of operational reserves, bond funding and philanthropic gifts.
The 370,000-square-foot facility was finished last fall, but hospital staff have been getting equipment up and running in the new space, according to Ron Biscaro, vice president of project management.
The hospital has spent thousands of hours preparing for what will essentially be a six-hour event, when the staff will relocate 150 patients to the new wings from the old. That move is scheduled to take place Feb. 12. The patients will move into private rooms, where a sofa bed folds out adjacent to the hospital bed, allowing family to stay nearby for overnight visits.
Each room is outfitted with a Likorall lift system, allowing patients to be transported from gurney to bed without putting strain on hospital staff.
A flat-screen television is attached to the wall across from the bed and is equipped with a patient education system, allowing the patient and family to watch videos detailing the discharge process as well as learn more about their individual condition.
“Every amenity has been thought through and vetted with our nursing staff,” Werft said.
The hospital even created a mock patient room several years ago, allowing nurses to weigh in on features they would like to see by placing sticky notes around the room.
“There were over 600 Post-It notes in that room,” Werft said with a laugh.
The attention to detail is evident throughout the facility, down to the meals served to the patients. They will now be able to have “room service,” meaning they can order items from a menu and order when they’re hungry, instead of having a set menu served at a set time. Many of the items on the menu are organic and locally sourced, and patients can choose from more than 50 therapeutic meal plans specific to their conditions.
Friday’s tour group also got a look at one of the 12 operating rooms, with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment suspended from the ceiling for doctors during surgery. The hospital’s new operating rooms boast impressive measures for infection control. The air in the rooms is exchanged with clean air 40 to 60 times an hour.
Four 2-megawatt generators also are on standby for emergency power, and could run the hospital for several days should the power be lost in a disaster.
Those hoping to see the new facility this weekend may be put on a waiting list after arriving at the hospital, according to Cottage spokeswoman Maria Zate, who said more room is available on Sunday.