Sunday, March 22, 2009

Check It Out Without Checking In

Our area hasn't had a new hospital in more than 30 years, but that's about to change. Next week SSM St. Joseph Hospital is closing and being replaced by SSM St. Clare Health Center. St. Clare held an open house this weekend to show off their new facility, so today I took a tour of a hospital that's not open.

Tony and I weren't the only ones who thought the open house was a good idea. The hospital parking lot looked like a mall in December; there were lines of cars waiting for spaces in several rows, but when we drove to an aisle farther away from the main entrance, a parking attendant waved us towards a space. There were just as many people inside, but after some initial confusion we figured out what to do. The hospital had self-guided tours available on the first, second, and third floors. Each tour was marked by blue arrows on the floor, and there were staff people interspersed along the routes to answer questions.

The hospital's patient rooms are amazing. They're all private, and have a picture window to let in natural light. The bed had a wooden headboard covering the medical equipment, so it didn't feel so much like a hospital room. The feeling was reinforced by all the amenities in each room: a flat-screen TV, DVD player, wireless Internet, small refrigerator, a safe, and a sound machine. There's a family visiting area that can be curtained off from the main patient area that contains a pull-out sofa bed (which is nice since there are no set visiting hours) and plenty of seating for visitors.

We got walk through the nursery (complete with "babies") and see one of the operating rooms, the CT scanner, and the wide-bore MRI, which was open on both sides and didn't look so claustrophobic. We weren't able to see them, but our brochure told us there's an outpatient center, surgery center, heart institute, and a cancer center. I'm sure the rest of the hospital, just like the patient rooms, has the latest medical technology.

It looked like some of the finishing touches still needed to be done, but I don't think any of those will stop the hospital from opening on March 30. Frankly, I hope my visit today is the ONLY time I have to be there!