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LRGH unveils new addition

LRGH President and CEO Tom Clairmont cuts the ribon and offically opens the new LRGH Patient Care addition. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
November 22, 2011
LACONIA — Lakes Region General Hospital and Laconia Chamber of Commerce members hosted the grand opening of the hospital's new patient care addition with their Business After Hours reception Thursday, Nov. 17 and grand opening Saturday Nov. 19.

The chain-link fence came down and the doors were opened at the new LRGH patient care addition.

LRGH President and CEO Tom Clairmont welcomed everyone to the new 97,000-square-foot addition.

"Today, we are celebrating the opening of the new Patient Care addition at LRGH," stated Clairmont. "This expansion will enable us to better meet the healthcare needs of our community today, and into the future."

According to Clairmont, the new addition, which adds 20 beds to the LRGH Senior Services Unit, will help them better serve the growing senior population of the Lakes Region.

Laconia Mayor Mike Seymour said the end product of the long project exceeded expectations to some extent.

Staff offered complete tours of the facility as part of the grand opening celebration. During one tour, Patty Rice, of LRGH, pointed out features which went along with their three main goals set for the new facility — minimizing the spread of disease, patient privacy, and sustainability.

According to Rice, all new patient rooms are single rooms, complete with their own full bathrooms to add to privacy and reduce any risk of the spread of disease.

The Senior Services Unit rooms, which more closely resembles a hotel suite than a hospital room, offers high-low beds, which lower to seven inches for easy accesses for patients and raise up to 40 inches, and are also equipped with scales and alarms to alert nurses when patients get out of bed. Rooms are also equipped with pull-out couch beds for family members and a new patient lift system which reduces risk of injury to patients and employees when helping patients out of bed.

To help create a more relaxing atmosphere, all the typical medical equipment ports are hidden behind sliding pictures on the walls and larger windows to help let in more natural light and prevent day/night confusion common with long hospital stays.

New Senior Services Director Amy Thornton, who said she is very excited about the new facility, demonstrated some of the amenities of the new rooms, including the beds, which are also capable of putting patients in a full siting position.

The new Intensive Care Unit features 15 single patient rooms and five Progressive Care rooms for patients transitioning between ICU and regular hospital rooms; this floor replaces the former eight-bed ICU.

ICU Director Monetta Sharpe said she was impressed with all the additional space.

These rooms feature many of the same amenities as the Senior Service Unit rooms, but add more monitoring devices and a more adaptive patient lift system which can pivot almost anywhere in the room. Between every two rooms is a nurse station facing into the rooms, so nurses are in close proximity and have constant visual observation of patients in addition computerized monitoring.

The new ICU is adjacent to the current Surgical Services and Telemetry Unit in the older part of the building.

According to Natalie Rudzinskyj, director of public relations and marketing, another helpful feature is the fact that the new addition provides a corridor between the old portion of LRGH and the Medical Office Building.

Rudzinskyj also described the new Facilities level, which houses all HVAC systems and equipment, and back up power generators capable of supplying the facility and community with back up power in time of crisis. Other green-initiative and sustainability features include the use of recycled materials such as carpeting, specialized florescent lighting which uses 75 percent less power, and plumbing fixtures which use about 20 percent less water. They also designed the window to utilize all possible natural light with special UV-filter glazing to reduce heat exchange.

During the tour, Rice explained that the hospital plans to create a tranquility garden on the rooftop in the spring as a green-space for patients and employees to relax and get some fresh air.

According to Rice, artwork decorating the walls of the new facility is by local artists and members of the Lakes Region Art Association. Rice said this helped dress up the walls with many landscapes and work inspired by scenery around the Lakes Region.

According to Rudzinskyj, there is a public misconception with the completion of such a capital improvement project in tight economic times.

"We started this project five years ago," said Rudzinskyj, explaining that the addition was a part of their overall master plan, and had been in the works for many years. "We needed to do this. We live in an aging community, and we would be unprepared when the time came to care for those people."

Up next for LRGH is a renovation of the old facility, which they plan to start around February or March 2012, as patients transition to the new addition.

"They did a great job," said Seymour, commending the LRGH Senior team. "With the logistics of a project of this nature, they demonstrated overall professionalism and expertise while running another facility. Not only can LRGH trustees feel proud of this achievement, but the community, as well."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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