St. Francis expansion unveils 30 new beds

St. Francis Hospital last week unveiled a new $32 million critical care unit.

The unit has 30 private beds and will serve the most seriously ill and injured patients.

Pam Cronrath, director of acute care services at St. Francis, said that new features and technology will provide benefits to patients including increased privacy, improved safety, reduced risk of infection, more attention from the nurse, improved monitoring, close proximity to the emergency entrance and more comfortable and welcoming family areas in each room.

A patient dedicated elevator and close proximity to the emergency entrance saves about three to five minutes transporting patients, Cronrath said. For seriously ill patients, three to five minutes can be critical.

Each patient room features plenty of natural light, neutral paint colors and nature photography. Some rooms have mountain views. Unit designers aimed to create a calm, soothing atmosphere.

“It really does make a nice healing environment,” said Nancy Nichols, clinical manager of the intensive care unit at St. Francis.

New technology in the unit allows health care workers easier access to patients and improves patient safety. Equipment booms hang from the ceiling and allow medical equipment to be organized and moved around the patient to create a more efficient workspace.

Patient lifts were installed to lift patients from straps hanging from the ceiling, rather than nurses lifting them. A fingerprint identification system prevents mistakes when dispensing patient medications. And improved bed alarms alert nurses if a patient is in danger of falling from a bed.

The new unit was designed with the help of nurses and includes several features to save nurses time and allow them to remain in close proximity to their patients. Each nurse went through four additional hours of training to learn to operate the new equipment and navigate the new unit.

The new critical care unit was paid for by the Franciscan Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives, a national non-profit Catholic health care system.

St. Francis Hospital is currently planning construction of a new patient-care wing to house 36 additional beds. The hospital will also expand its nursery services to provide care for babies that are born four to six weeks prematurely and have no health problems. The upcoming construction will also be paid for by the Franciscan Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives.

Contact Margo Hoffman: or (253) 925-5565.

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