Patient Care Tower
SVH’s Patient Care Tower Teems With Life After State Approval for Occupancy
Simi Valley Hospital’s $75 million Patient Care Tower has sprung to life!
The final step in the building’s 5-1/2 year planning and construction process came on June 12 when the California Department of Public Health declared that Simi Valley Hospital is in compliance with state licensing requirements as a general provider of acute care services and gave the go-ahead to occupy the beautiful new structure.
The transition from old to new began at around 9 a.m. on June 17. Throughout the day, SVH staff members worked together in a seamless effort to transport approximately 60 patients from the existing hospital facility to the new building.
Movin’ on up
The first wave of patients on moving day were transported from the existing Telemetry and Med/Surg areas to the first and second floor rooms of the Patient Care Tower. Prior to starting the move, a number of staff members huddled together one last time in the Telemetry Unit’s nursing station.
“I’m so excited,” said Gedei Achakzai, RN. “Our patients are going to love the new building and their rooms.”
To help give perspective to the significance of the day, SVH Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk spoke a blessing over the hospital intercom.
“Father in heaven, we have looked forward to this day for a very long time and we are so grateful for all your blessings, for the people, the energy and the resources that it took to make this new Patient Care Tower a reality,” his prayer began, continuing with petitions for blessings on staff, physicians and patients.
Simi Valley resident Yvonne Neumann was the first patient to cross over into the Patient Care Tower. Lori Cruze, RN, transferred Neumann by wheelchair from the old Telemetry Unit to room 261 of the Tower’s Telemetry Unit, with Neumann’s granddaughter and daughter-in-law at her side.
“There was electricity in the air,” Neumann said. “I could tell something was going to happen that was very special … I could feel it in the air … the hospital staff were smiling so intensely the whole morning and the day before.”
Reporters and photographers from the Simi Valley Acorn and Daily News were on hand to capture Neumann’s history-making move.
“There are not too many firsts at my age,” Neumann said. “I’m so excited to be a part of it all.”
Joanne Bercier-Gorcey, RN, director of Nursing Operations, Med./Surg and Telemetry, presented Neumann with a keepsake basket of items on her arrival at her new room to make her stay a little more enjoyable.
“I am most excited for our patients,” Bercier-Gorcey said. “This building is a wonderful gift to them.”
By 3 p.m., the old Telemetry and Med./Surg. areas were completely vacated, leaving the units starkly quiet. One SVH staff member compared it to a ghost town.
“I thought I saw some tumbleweeds blowing down the hallways,” SVH Chaplain Bill Werner quipped.
ICU on a Roll
Nine patients moved from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to the new 24-bed ICU. The first patient to move, Macedonio Gonzalez, took room 209, which his wife, Sara, had selected for its beautiful view of the hills on the north side of the valley.
“The move is going extremely well,” said Kathy Sacco, ICU director. “Everyone is working in unison—stores, nursing and respiratory. It’s a team effort all the way.”
Clif Patten, senior vice president, took the lead in pushing the patients on 500-pound beds from the old ICU to the new. All patients were resting comfortably in their new rooms by 3:15 p.m.
Unique Patient Leads Women’s Unit March
The first of the six patients who moved into the new Women’s Unit had two reasons to be excited about the new facility—as a new mom, and as an employee in the department.
Women’s Services staff member Claudia Oliveira, RN, had delivered a seven-pound baby boy by C-section early in the day in the former Women’s Unit, and will return to work in the new facility after her maternity leave.
After Oliveira was settled into the Tower’s room 314, Women’s and Children’s Services Director Pam Andreasen presented a gift basket to her as a welcome to the new facility. By 3:50 p.m., all Women’s Unit patients had been moved into the new Tower safely.
Women’s Unit nurse Dawn Russell, RN, said that she was “excited beyond belief” and that she was “very happy about the new equipment” in the new rooms.
SVH leadership, nurses and staff members were not alone in their enthusiasm for the move into the new Patient Care Tower. Hospital physicians, whose patients will benefit from the new technology and comfortable surroundings in the 128-bed Tower, were also excited about the future of health care in Simi Valley.
“It’s still too good to be true,” said Atul Agarwall, MD, as he gently pounded on the wall in the ICU area while sitting at a dictation desk. “I’ve waited a good, long time for this day—and it’s finally here!”
Victor Schweitzer, MD, came over to the Tower to refamiliarize himself with the building and specifically the area where his patients would receive care.
“It’s like walking from the 20th century into the 21st century,” he said. “It has that ‘new car smell.’ It’s great!”
Excitement, Reflection and a ‘Wonderful Start’
Throughout moving day, SVH staff members expressed their happiness and excitement about the new Patient Care Tower and gave kudos to everyone who has been involved in the planning and construction of the four-story, 146,000-square-foot structure that features expansive work areas and state-of-the-art technology to make work easier for staff.
It was also a time of reflection for some.
“I want to walk these hallways [the 1965 building] one last time alone,” Hyrchuk said. “Some significant life moments have occurred in this building. Just think about what this means to some of our nurses and staff who have been with us for 25 years or more. This is all they know.”
At the end of the day, SVH President and CEO Darwin Remboldt broadcast an e-mail to all staff.
“It is 4:30, and all of our patients are safely in their new rooms in the tower,” he said in the message. “I want to thank each of you for all of your efforts during this move. I want to especially thank Clif [Patten, SVH vice president] and Caroline [Esparza, SVH vice president and chief nurse executive] for their superb planning. Today is a wonderful start for SVH.”
Demolition of the original 1965 hospital building will begin within weeks. This work will make room for a spacious, new 7,000-square-foot lobby that will take approximately 10 months to complete.