July 14, 2008

OSF St. Joseph Increasing Patient Comfort With Expansion

By Paul Swiech, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Jul. 14--BLOOMINGTON -- Two behind-the-scenes projects beginning at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center are designed to keep patients and staff safe and comfortable.

The two projects total nearly $6 million and are designed to address current needs and account for future growth at St. Joseph, said Larry Wills, vice president of hospital operations.

The first project, totaling $4,107,000, is a 4,600-square-foot addition to the back of the hospital's power plant to accommodate two new energy-efficient chillers to air condition the hospital. The addition will have room to add a third chiller, which may be needed in a few years if the medical center expands as planned, Wills said.

The second project, totaling $1,876,000, is to relocate the hospital's sterile processing area, where surgical instruments are sterilized, and to add three new sterilizers to replace two existing sterilizers, Wills said. The sterile processing area will relocate from its original location in the hospital basement to larger space in the lower level of the hospital's surgery suite, he said.

Both projects should be done next spring.

Having sterile processing directly under the surgery suite will be more convenient and will save time for staff, said Jan Weaver, a registered nurse and the hospital's clinical manager of surgical services.

Two new sterilizers will be traditional gravity-and-steam sterilizers. The third sterilizer will be a new ozone sterilizer that uses oxygen, water and electricity and is supposed to be safer for the environment, Weaver said.

Sterile processing remained in its original location, even as the hospital added the surgery suite and the Center for Advanced Medicine, Wills said.

The two existing chillers -- one 30 years old and the other 28 years old -- also have served the hospital through the expansions, he said. In June, one of the chillers sprung a leak and a temporary chiller was brought in for two to three weeks, he said.

"It's time to replace them," Wills said.

The medical center -- not including Eastland Medical Plaza I and II -- is 289,000 square feet, compared with 167,000 square feet for the original 1968 hospital building, he said.

"You've got a 40-year-old building that's getting tired and the infrastructure needs to be replaced," Wills said. Updating the electrical system and replacing water lines are next.


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