Monday, January 18, 2010

The New St. Mary's - Grand Junction Grows Upward

Yesterday the Grand Junction community was introduced to the centerpiece of the St. Mary's Hospital Century Project - a new 12-story tower, along with expansion of the existing facility. From the looks of it, the open house was very well attended, and the attendees got to see what is truly a great advancement in the technological and physical capabilities of the region's largest health care provider.
What many that attended seemed most interested in was the view from the top of what is now the tallest building in GJ, and it didn't disappoint. While many were looking around the rooftop hangar and crew quarters, many were trying to pinpoint local landmarks from the windows.

This view is from the window of the pilot's quarters, one floor above the hangar level. In the upper left is 5th Street, with Grand Junction High School visible and in the distance, the Alpine Bank Building and Downtown. One thing that struck me is how much snow has yet to melt off in the valley after nearly a month and a half on the ground.

The new operating rooms on the 1st level were very impressive to me. The robust imaging, video, and networking capabilities in these surgical suites was really something to watch. The cameras can zoom in on something very small to aid the surgeon in visualizing it, and the lighting and equipment assembly, all suspended from ceiling-mounted booms, gave me the impression that the facility can more than adequately support the needs and talents of the professionals saving lives at St. Mary's every day.

Between the top of the building and the bottom are lots of patient rooms, including 4 whole floors that aren't going to be used right away. I did stop on the orthopedic floor to get an idea of what a typical patient room looked like. All rooms are private rooms, and have the above impressive view. There are other amenities like flat screen TV's and a desk area that you can't see here, but the other aspects of these floors are adequate space, privacy, and comfort for both patients and staff. At least you can watch the inversion haze burn off (we hope).

The hospital added a 5th floor to their existing building, linked it with the new tower, and created a brand new Saccomanno Education Center. The facility boasts at least 3 conference / meeting areas that can be merged into one, as well as a robust computer training lab. Videoconferencing, full Internet access, and the power of the hospital's network made me start thinking this would be one potential place to put an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for a major health emergency, such as pandemic illness or a mass casualty incident.

The remainder of my focus was on the public areas of the new building on the lower levels. The entire building seems to focus as much as possible on the use of natural light - windows abound in just about every space they possibly could, but especially in the main lobby and waiting areas, a new reflection room with some beautiful stained glass, and the new hospital Cafeteria and dining area. The new cafe features a wood-fired oven for pizza and the like, and a Mongolian-style grill.

It's quite possible that this new facility will attract the public for reasons other than just health care services. It's a beautiful space, one that has the potential to renew and bring peace just from being there.

The staff and leadership of St. Mary's and its parent organization, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System, deserve the thanks of the community for planning and executing a facility that brings so many possibilities for the enhancement of care to the forefront for this area.

By combining this magnificent new infrastructure with dedicated personnel and efficient, compassionate operating processes, St. Mary's is poised to make great things happen for health care consumers across Western Colorado.

Have a good week ahead.

Photo credit (top): St. Mary's Hospital and Regional Medical Center

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