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Provena Mercy shows off major hospital room upgrade

By Erika Wurst, Aurora Beacon News

The hospital is not a place people really want to end up, but if they check into Provena Mercy Medical Center, they may never want to leave.

Provena Mercy — which just celebrated its 100th year — is undergoing an $11 million renovation, and the fruits of that labor were revealed Tuesday morning during a VIP showing. Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, State Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia and proud members of the Provena Mercy Medical Center Foundation got a sneak peek of the new never-slept-in, single-patient rooms.

“It’s a lot brighter. More cheerful now,” Weisner said as he moved from the old wing and into the new, brightly lit section of the hospital. Wood floors and paneling replaced drab carpet and dark-painted walls.

The upgrade is part of the hospital’s response to patient needs, said Suzette Mahneke, Provena Mercy’s Chief Nurse.

The new single-patient rooms are equipped with flat-screen televisions, comfortable guest chairs, newly replaced windows and, at 218 square feet, provide the most patient space of any hospital around.

The stone-tiled bathrooms with new toilets, showers and sinks are another perk.

“It’s a lot nicer than my bathroom,” the mayor said with a laugh. “It’s time to remodel.”

Not only are the rooms aesthetically pleasing, but they are practical as well. Patients have access to regulate their room’s temperature, lighting and noise level. Single-occupancy rooms also decrease their risk of infection and regulate the number of interruptions by caregivers normally treating two patients.

So far, 42 of the project’s 90 rooms have undergone renovations and will be ready for occupancy after inspections. During the project’s next several phases, the remaining rooms will receive the same treatment. The entire project is expected to be finished by late next summer.

“It’s just great,” said George Einhorn, the hospital’s CEO. “We just celebrated 100 years, and this really puts us in a position for the next 100 years.”

As pleased as patients will be with the makeover, staff members are equally elated. Renovations to each floor include dual nursing stations and a more easily navigated layout.

As a nurse, Mahneke knows the importance of easy access to rooms on any hospital wing.

“It just brings us that much closer to the patients,” she said.

According to statistics provided by the hospital, employee job satisfaction and morale increases in private-room environments. This reduces the turnover rate and saves the hospital money in the long run.

Hospital workers and volunteers smiled from ear to ear as they scooted throughout the wing, showing off their new work space.

The hospital foundation has raised $1.2 million to offset capital costs. Hospital employees have also pledged $186,000 to the cause.

“These selfless contributions will help us to continue our commitment to the community — ensuring our patients receive high quality care, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Susan Mennenga, executive director of the Provena Mercy Foundation.

Besides comfort and beauty, the private rooms also provide a host of other benefits for those checking in.

Patients in private rooms report feeling “more proactive in their care and appreciate the opportunity to discuss information with caregivers and their families in a private environment,” the hospital said in a release. The ability for family and friends to visit freely and privately also leads to faster recovery.

“It’s an industry ‘best practice,’” Mennenga said. “We finally took the time and proper planning to do it, and the centennial celebration was that perfect time.”

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