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Visitors to Bryan East Campus on Monday started seeing construction barriers and rerouting of traffic for those dropping off and picking up patients and visitors.

Within the next couple of weeks, people coming to the hospital also will face a detour inside the front entrance and relocation of the Cafe Express that will last approximately four months. And in March, two large cranes will show up on the hospital campus at 1600 S. 48th St.

It's all part of a major renovation and expansion aimed at modernizing the hospital's operating and recovery rooms.

The $47 million project will be done in several phases and take approximately three years to complete.

The first phase, which is now getting underway, involves constructing a two-story addition between the main hospital tower and the medical plaza building.

It will house 14 modern surgical rooms on the second floor, 11 of which will be constructed in the first phase.

As part of the second phase, the 16 current operating rooms will be remodeled into pre- and post-operative rooms for patients.

In phase three, the three remaining operating rooms — which will be dedicated to cardiovascular surgery — will be built, while phase four will include additional construction of recovery rooms and two specialty procedure rooms.

Other elements of the project include a new first-floor waiting area where the current Bryan Advancement and Public Relations offices are located, with an open staircase connecting to a second-floor waiting area that will include a refreshment area, family seating areas, work spaces with charging stations and other amenities. There also will be private consultation rooms on the second floor for family members to meet with surgeons and receive updates.

Once complete, the project will transform about 115,000 square feet of hospital space and modernize surgical facilities, some of which were built in the 1960s.

"We do think it's going to serve, at least this campus, for the next three decades or so," said Bryan Health Vice President Bob Ravenscroft.

While the project actually will reduce the number of fully equipped operating rooms from 16 to 14, the rooms will be much bigger and better able to accommodate today's larger surgical staffs and modern equipment.

"The largest (operating) room today is smaller than what the new rooms will be," said Don Sheets, director of facilities management.

Plus, Ravenscroft pointed out that six surgical rooms were added for outpatient procedures last year when the 5055 Building opened, so the hospital will still have more operating rooms overall than it did a few years ago.

Across both Bryan East and West campuses, there were more outpatient surgeries (7,421) through the first 11 months of 2018 than there were inpatient surgeries (6,429).

Of the $47 million being spent on the renovations, $33 million is for construction and $14 million is for new equipment, including a new HVAC system that Sheets said will be important for regulating humidity in the operating rooms. Sampson Construction is the general contractor for the project.

In addition to modernizing facilities, Ravenscroft said another aim of the project is to centralize surgery functions in one place to make things easier on patients and family members, about 25-30 percent of whom come from outside of Lincoln.

While construction is going on, he said the hospital is doing everything it can to lessen the inconvenience for people. That includes beefing up staff for its free valet parking and increasing the number of volunteers on duty.

"There will be a lot of people here to get people where they need to go," Ravenscroft said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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