St. Vincent Health is set to open its new hospital in mid-July after years of planning and recent construction delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 26,500-square-foot facility, which sits adjacent to the current hospital on West Fourth Street, will offer a slew of services that Lake County residents now must drive out of the county for, including general surgery and therapy and recovery services.
Currently, the new facility is budgeted at about $23 million. St. Vincent Health CEO Brett Antczak said the project will likely cost more than $25 million once completed. In early stages of planning in 2016, the building was estimated to cost only $12 million, although Antczak said that design was meant to be a “Band-aid” and wouldn’t have addressed Lake County’s health care needs.
The main lobby of the new hospital is an open space with high ceilings and a gas-powered fireplace made of stone. St. Vincent’s cultural health navigator, Claudia Robles, who will continue working at Rocky Mountain Family Practice until the provider merges with St. Vincent in June, will sit at a desk in the main lobby. Robles’ role will be to assist patients who may not speak English. Additionally, Antczak said all hospital personnel who speak Spanish will have an indication on their badge that they are multilingual.
On one wall in the lobby, local artist Lexi Palmore will paint a mural about the history and development of health care in Lake County. The mural will include a scene from 1878, when the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kan., stepped off a stagecoach in Leadville to establish St. Vincent’s Hospital. Throughout the hospital, about 100 pieces of donated or loaned art from local artists will hang on the walls.
Antczak said St. Vincent is committed to “health care hospitality,” after asking the public how the hospital can improve as a care provider last year. There are eight inpatient rooms with views of mountains, each complete with a 55-inch smart television, dimmable lights, high-thread-count sheets and private bathrooms. Some rooms are also outfitted with special harnesses for patients who need assistance moving, and the hospital will have its own in-house laundry service.
There are six offices for St. Vincent staff and administration in the new facility, including an office for Antczak. In the center of the facility is the nurses’ atrium, which allows for easy access to both inpatient and emergency rooms. The hospital installed new X-ray and CT scan machines in its radiology department, as well as a separate lab for blood work. In addition, there are two “flex” rooms that can transform based on inpatient need, a behavioral holding room for patients experiencing mental health crises, a reflection room for families to rest, two trauma rooms for severe incidents and a non-retail pharmacy.
The new hospital’s operation rooms will offer colonoscopies, general surgery, interventional cardiology, orthopedic surgery, ophthalmology, dermatology and other services that were not previously offered in Lake County. Surgeries will begin at the new facility as soon as August.
Antczak said the reason why St. Vincent’s new facility is over budget is because of increased measures to improve the safety and comfort of patients. Those measures include a heated helicopter pad, security components like cameras and badge-activated access to certain rooms, and an outdoor patio area.
In the coming months, Antczak said St. Vincent staff will train with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Leadville/Lake County Fire-Rescue on emergency preparedness for the building, including active shooter and fire drills. In July, the new facility will host an open house for the public.