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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New patient tower at Inova ready to open

All of the 174 patient rooms at the new South Tower on the Inova Fairfax Hospital are single occupancy, and the new 11-story building has lots of features aimed at making the hospital experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Patients will start being moved to the building the week of Jan. 13.

 There will be an official dedication ceremony for the South Tower Dec. 14 with comments from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, other elected leaders, and Inova executives, but the Annandale Blog got a sneak peak Dec. 11.
The design incorporates a lot of light and makes an effort to bring the outdoors in through the use of natural elements in the decor, large windows, and nature photos on the walls. “Research shows that patients do better when exposed to natural light. If you’re sick or injured, you’ll heal faster and it reduces depression and anxiety,” said Rebecca Hileman, director of education and business at INOVA.

The lobby.
The 120 medical/surgical patient rooms and 54 intensive care unit (ICU) rooms are designed for a single patient because research shows patients heal more quickly if they don’t have to share a room, Hileman says. It also makes things easier for the care providers, and there’s less risk of infection. The rooms could be converted to double occupancy if there is a major disaster or pandemic, she said.

A patient room.
Patient rooms have flat-screen TVs, picture windows,  recessed lighting so nurses don’t have to turn on the overhead lights when patients are sleeping, plenty of storage areas, a safe for valuables, and a sofa that converts to a bed in case a family member wants to spend the night. The in-room bathrooms have tiled walls in contrasting colors to help patients find their way,  an easy-to-access shower, and no shelves “to reduce the number of places where germs can linger,” Hileman says.

There are several “negative pressure” patient rooms to minimize the spread of contamination from patients with infectious diseases. Those rooms are larger, so they can also be used for VIP patients.

The nursing staff helped design their work spaces.
Patient rooms in the ICU area have doors that swing open, making it easier to roll patients in and out, and swinging arms attached to the ceiling for medical instruments to minimize disturbing patients. There are two on-call rooms in each ICU area for physicians to nap and conference rooms where staff can have private consultations with family.

A hallway.
Throughout the new building, there are lots of little touches to make things run smoother, like doors that open with the wave of a hand and built in nooks for computer stations with windows allowing staff to look into patient rooms while recording medical data. All recordkeeping at Inova Fairfax is electronic. On each floor, there a room just for charging equipment with electrical outlets lining the walls.

There’s a new helipad attached to the building to bring in trauma victims quickly. It’s the third one at the Fairfax campus. There’s a cafĂ© on the first floor for staff and visitors offering healthy selections. The building has lots of environmentally friendly elements, like a green roof with vegetation to reduce runoff and save  energy and a cistern to capture rain water.

The view from a patient room showing the helipad on the roof of the emergency area, the construction site for the new women's and children's hospital, and Gallows Road in the distance.
The 216,000 square foot South Tower is the first phase of an $850 million capital improvement program at the Fairfax campus. The multi-year expansion project includes a new 12-story Women’s and Children’s hospital, which is already under construction and is expected to be completed by 2016.  There will also be a new eight-story parking garage nearby. Construction on a new cancer institute is expected to start in 2014. 

Once the South Tower is occupied, renovation will start on the existing patient tower to convert all the rooms to single occupancy.

Even with all the new construction, the number of beds at Fairfax Inova won’t be increased by the current 833.The trend in health care is to focus on more on preventive care, with hospital stays limited to people who are very ill or gravely injured, Hileman says. “Most of our business now focuses on geriatrics and women and children.”

An ICU room.

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