A $115 million expansion will be coming to St. Anthony North Hospital with plans to break ground on Dec. 16.
“In the area, it doesn’t matter what direction you look, everybody’s moving in,” the hospital’s CEO Constance Schmidt said addressing how rapidly growth is occurring.
Plans to expand the hospital started in 2017. In 2018, the hospital began to reach 80% capacity at midnight, meaning 80% of the beds had heads in them.
Admission numbers continued to climb as well. Between 2021 and 2022, they grew by 7% and between 2022 and 2023, they grew by 6.5%.
That’s parallel to surgeries, both inpatient and outpatient. From 2021 to 2022, they grew by 16% and between 2022 and 2023, they grew by 15.5%.
Six years ago, the hospital moved up from the Legacy Campus location at 84th and Federal, which is now only an emergency room. At that location, Centura has plans to rebuild that emergency department with partnership of the future Uplands community, but isn’t there yet.
Now, a 133,000 square foot structure with five different floors will start to be built at the 144th location.
The first floor will be a cancer center with all the services needed for oncology and will open in the winter of 2024.
Schmidt said it’s important to have cancer centers be a one stop shop since patients already have enough to worry about, without needing to drive to multiple different places for their treatments.
1,800 patients a year are diagnosed with cancer in St. Anthony North’s service area.
“This is going to be a game changer for those patients and families,” Schmidt said.
The second floor will be a 26 bed intensive care unit, with the opening to be dated, and the third floor will be a 30 bed surgical unit with an open date of August 2024.
The fourth and fifth floors will be for inpatient treatment, with an open date also to be dated.
COVID and the future
With COVID fresh on the minds of healthcare workers, Schmidt explained that it definitely influenced how healthcare will look now and in the future.
She explained that while she was in college, many of the experts said healthcare will move from acute care to more critical care.
Meaning, instead of hospitals that are large centers of healthcare, different services would spread out across the community. She said that COVID-19 showed the opposite and was a perfect example of why acute care is very important to give access to high quality care in one space.
Additionally, COVID-19 taught hospitals how to partner with various organizations and adapt to different situations. For example, Schmidt explained that during the high points of the pandemic, various units, like Post Anesthesia Care Units, were transformed into a space to care for COVID-19 patients.
As well, those who were on the front lines of the pandemic helped design the expansion. The hospitals held focus groups with nurses, nursing assistants, patients and others to hear what ideas they brought to the table. From designing hallways to how rooms would look like, their ideas were taken into consideration.
Specifically, designers set up mock rooms for employees to work in and see how best the room could be set up. Everything from how to set up the computer to where paper towels should be placed.
“Those are the kinds of decisions and input that our staff gave, which is priceless,” Schmidt said. “Yes, I'm a nurse, but I haven't been at the bedside for 12 years.”