FORT RILEY — For long-term patients at Irwin Army Community Hospital, the new facility opening next year should be a home away from home.
Construction of the 550,000-square-foot hospital, which is adjacent to the current structure and will bear the same name, is around 85 percent complete. The new facility is meant to help patients feel more comfortable, while also being environmentally friendly.
U.S. Army officials have not yet indicated whether the present hospital will be demolished or used for some other purpose – but all medical services are moving to what is being described as the “replacement hospital.”
When the new building is finished, which is expected to be sometime early next summer – with patients and staff moving in the fall – it will have several additional beds for patients, with particular expansions in the areas of labor and delivery and behavioral health fields.
“Pregnant women will stay in the same room,” said Frank Harrison, project manager for the Health Facility Planning Agency. “They don’t deliver in one location and move to another.”
The new facility will also add an inpatient behavioral health program that will benefit from a concept called evidence-based design, or EBD. For example, the hospital will have gardens to give patients a chance to get outdoors while still being close to doctors.
“They can have that open feeling, yet it’s contained,” Harrison said.
The EBD process is geared toward making a patient’s experience at the hospital easier and more like a home.
All rooms in the new building will be designed for single patients, with special areas for families to stay for extended periods.
The hospital will also be closer to the Warrior Transition Battalion facility and will be connected by a walkway, making it easier for soldiers to get to the hospital.
The centralized design of the hospital, with the most commonly used services accessible via a single hallway, is intended to make it easier for both patients and visitors to find those services.
“There’s easy access to the main areas that are going to be used the most,” said Jon Cranmer, the hospital’s facility manager.
Construction managers are also seeking ways to make the hospital more environmentally friendly according to LEED (Leadership and Education in Environmental Design) guidelines.
Materials for the building come from the region, rather than being shipped from long distances. They are mostly recycled or partially recycled.
The parking lots will include spots reserved for electric and high efficiency vehicles.
In addition, the building was carefully planned to face an angle that would allow for natural sunlight to heat the atrium through its glass windows in the morning and winter – but not enough to overheat the interior.
The windows give patients a chance to see the hills outside, but the design also lowers heating and cooling costs.
Staff members plan to have the hospital fully occupied by next Thanksgiving, Cranmer said. In the meantime, they have scheduled “day in the life” drills to help acclimate staff to the new building.
Cranmer said the drills would range from how to transport a patient through the emergency room to moving supplies through the hospital.
“When they come over here and start working, they’ll already have the big things figured out,” he said.