Samaritan Medical Center renovation work continues as another phase is planned

Samaritan Keep Home staff members use the first floor of the newly opened connector to go pick up a patient at Samaritan Medical Center and transfer them back to the home. Photo by Amanda Morrison/Watertown Daily Times.

Although asbestos abatement has put Samaritan Medical Center a few months behind schedule with some of its $61 million expansion and renovation project, the hospital is moving forward with planning its next phase of renovations.

Spokeswoman Krista A. Kittle said asbestos was discovered on 4 Pratt, which is on the fourth floor in an older part of the hospital, where alternate level of care beds are. Patients will be moved temporarily to the former progressive care unit on 3 Pratt while the abatement takes upward of two months to complete.

“As we got into the project, there was no way to say where asbestos was,” Ms. Kittle said. “Now that patients are out of 4 Pratt, that abatement can take place. Once that’s complete, they can move back there permanently.”

The old progressive care unit will be renovated into the hospital’s new pharmacy, and construction is expected to be complete by mid-August.

Within the next couple of weeks, however, the old registration area on the hospital’s first floor will be the new home for the chapel, pastoral care and volunteer services. The nearby physical therapy unit is undergoing renovations and temporarily is housed in the old cafeteria.

Renovation work that has been completed includes the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and a centralized registration area. A total of 71,500 square feet of older hospital space will be renovated once all units are complete.

Meanwhile, 5 Pratt, a medical/surgical unit, has been gutted and renovated to look like a unit in the patient pavilion. Ms. Kittle said 5 Pratt has a gym to ease recovery for orthopedic floor patients. That unit opened Jan. 29.

“That should conclude this phase of renovations that were outlined in the facility master plan,” she said. “That was rolled out in 2006 and expected to be a six- or seven-year plan. That has served us well and resulted in many changes you see today.”

New construction includes the two-level connector between Samaritan Keep Home and the main hospital, the parking garage and the patient pavilion.

Although renovations, which are considered phase 3 of the overall project, are expected to be complete by the end of summer, Ms. Kittle said, there’s more updating that needs to be done at the hospital. Samaritan is working on developing a separate renovation project, which officials are calling phase 4.

The oldest part of the hospital, she said, is the 1949 and 1952 building, which is across from the Samaritan Keep Home entrance and has “House of the Good Samaritan” engraved in the stone above the doorway. Ms. Kittle said that is used as a physician’s entrance and for direct access to support services. Laundry services, which also will handle the bulk of linens from Samaritan Summit Village once it opens, either will remain on site of the main hospital and be expanded or will be moved elsewhere.

Phase 4 also would include improvements to the inpatient mental health and maternity units. Maternity renovations originally were scheduled to be a part of Phase 3 renovations, Ms. Kittle said, but the further Samaritan got into the planning process, the more officials realized it would be best to take their time to further develop plans. Postpartum rooms are often full and some patients have to double up, although Ms. Kittle said Samaritan recognizes that is “not most conducive” for new mothers.

Other renovation ideas for maternity would focus on family bonding time right after birth. The maternity unit was last updated in 2000.

Ms. Kittle said Phase 4 plans will be developed through a new facilities master plan once an architectural and engineering firm is selected. A request for proposals went out, and a contract is expected to be awarded by month’s end. The firm will assess space to be renovated and have a report back to the hospital by mid-May. Ms. Kittle said that report could include renovations to the pediatric unit on 4 Pratt.

Because health care changes so rapidly, she said, updated space, equipment and technology are necessary to provide updated, quality services to patients and to help attract physicians to the area.

– Rebecca Madden, Watertown Daily Times staff writer