(Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles, originally appearing in the Daily Local News, depicting the new features and the new technology incorporated into the expansion of Chester County Hospital.)
WEST CHESTER, PA - A $300 million expansion project at Chester County Hospital opens Monday with new technology that puts it at the forefront of some of the premier hospitals in the nation.
By late spring, Chester County Hospital will be the largest in Chester County, PA with 301 licensed beds. The quarter-million square-foot expansion will include 15 modern operating room suites, new areas for non-invasive cardiology, 99 private inpatient rooms, a 700-car parking garage, an outpatient pharmacy offering over-the counter medications and prescription pick up and refills, a bistro, and even a rooftop helipad.
And by the end of next year, a 26,000 square-foot expansion and renovation of the hospital's Emergency Department will be completed, with enhanced security features and specialized exam rooms.
The expansion project is sorely needed, allowing a move out of a wing built 60 years ago, said Michael Duncan, president and CEO of Chester County Hospital, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
"Right now, we run our operating rooms from 7 in the morning to 9 at night, and with 10 rooms,” Duncan said. "Now we will have 15 additional OR’s, including 3 new Cardiac Catheterization and Electrophysiology Labs, plus additional Post procedure recovery bays (27) and private Prep/Recovery rooms. We built this because of our increasing demand for surgical space. We need more operating rooms, more inpatient bays, more places for people to recover."
Currently, the hospital uses 10 operating rooms, 3 of which were built in 1925, with the smallest being 295 square feet. Now, the operating room footprint not only more than doubles, but it comes with all the latest technology, including high-tech robotics.
In the past five years, Chester County Hospital has seen cardiac catheterizations increase 9 percent, open heart surgeries increase 29 percent and orthopedic surgeries increase 16 percent. And hospital staff deliver two out of three babies born in Chester County. Couple that with the fact that Chester County is the fastest-growing county in the region and is expected to add more than 146,000 new residents by 2045, according to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
To plan for the future, Duncan said, is to accommodate anticipated growth. With the senior citizen population in Chester County growing at an annual rate of nearly 4 percent, the hospital needs all the latest technologies in managing heart disease, cancer and orthopedic disorders, Duncan said.
The expansion matches the current Italian Renaissance stucco exterior with red terra cotta roof that dates back to 1925 when it had 145 beds.
The hospital, ranked the sixth best hospital in the Philadelphia Metro region and 12th best in Pennsylvania. according to U.S. News & World Report, could rank even higher after the expansion, Duncan believes.
"Last year we were named the highest quality community hospital in the United States by one organization and the highest patient satisfaction hospital in the United States by another organization, and now we will have a facility that lets all of that blossom," Duncan said.
Duncan gave credit to the hospital's high quality scores to its nurses, doctors and surgeons. Generally, there is one nurse per four patients, and one nurse per two patients in the Intensive Care Unit.
"You can cut expenses when you don't have as many nurses, but you certainly can't achieve the level of quality we get," Duncan said. "You can't get (the awards) unless you have great nurses."
On Monday, the temporary hospital entrance at the crossing of East Marshall Street and Convent Lane relocates to the new main entrance at the intersection of East Marshall Street and Montgomery Avenue. The entry court, which will host the hospital’s free valet service, is directly across from the parking garage. Up-to-date parking and wayfinding information can be found on the hospital’s website and patients and visitors can rely on the signage on E. Marshall Street to direct them.
From the entry court, patients and family members will have access not only to the new pavilion but also to all areas of the existing hospital. Those in need of emergency care should continue to use the Emergency Department entrance and dedicated lots along East Marshall Street. Those reporting for a procedure will still go to the Ambulatory Care Center located at the East Entrance, until the new procedural suite is fully operational later this spring.
At the hospital’s new main entrance will be a reception desk with a security officer, Red Coat ambassadors and an information desk volunteer to help patients and visitors navigate their way around campus. The Knauer Family Lobby has lots of natural light and comfortable seating with cushions. Just to the right of the reception desk is the Abbott Family Courtyard, a glass-enclosed, open-air outdoor space featuring trees, greenery, tables and chairs.
Adjacent to the lobby is the new pre-procedure testing area, which offers heart and vascular screening, pulmonary function testing, and other tests that may be needed before surgery or other medical procedures. Also on this floor is the Women’s Auxiliary Gift Shop and the Chester County Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy, where all community members—not just hospital patients—can have prescriptions filled. There is also a Bistro serving Starbucks coffee, other drinks, and prepackaged sandwiches and snacks.
Initially, surgeries will continue to take place in the existing hospital as the new pavilion will open in phases throughout late spring.
TOMORROW: The Emergency Department expansion on the first floor will open in early spring of this year, featuring beefed-up security, 43 private rooms (when completely renovated), nine private patient rooms with sliding glass doors and a dedicated elevator and staircase that connects to the Knauer Family Lobby allowing loved ones to easily access to the Bistro, Pharmacy, Gift Shop and courtyard. Learn More! >>