Obici addition provides for present, future growth

Published 1:57 pm Monday, March 1, 2010

On Godwin Boulevard, one construction project rises from the ground out of the view of most Suffolk residents.

The new three-story bed tower at Sentara Obici Hospital is about 85 percent complete, according to Sentara officials.

“We’re very excited,” said Rosemary Check, vice president and administrator at Sentara Obici Hospital. “We’ve had a need for extra beds for quite some time now.”

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The new bed tower will add 65,000 square feet of space to the hospital, said Kyle Woody, the project manager for the addition. The tower will add 30 beds to the hospital, which is the primary source of higher-level medical care in the growing city of Suffolk.

The addition, which should be finished around June, will “clearly not be any too soon,” for the Suffolk community, Check said.

Currently, patients coming in through the emergency department or referred by their physicians sometimes have to wait for available beds, Check said.

“With the area growing, we’re seeing an increase in demand,” Check said. “We’re very thankful people want to use this hospital, but if there isn’t a bed available, that is counter to what we’re trying to do. This addition will ensure we are able to meet their needs in a more timely fashion.”

Doctors, nurses and other staff worked with the architects to ensure the addition best meets the needs of staff and patients alike, Check said. It accomplishes a dual purpose — getting the best possible building design, and making staff feel they had a good deal of involvement with the project, Check said.

The tower includes the 30 additional beds, as well as 18 beds being relocated from the existing facility. It includes 24 beds for medical and surgical patients, as well as one floor of 24 beds dedicated to orthopedic patients. The orthopedic floor includes physical therapy services right across the hall from patient rooms. Patients with mobility issues no longer will have to travel a long way for their services, saving staff time and patient comfort.

As well as the boon for health care for the Suffolk area, the addition also provides benefits in another major area — economics.

“This was a terrific move on Sentara’s part,” Woody said. “This came right at a time of huge uncertainty for a lot of people.”

The project began in August 2008, just when the economic slowdown was hitting home for many people. Woody believes the economic ramifications of the Obici project are hard to see, but real nonetheless. An average of about 65 workers per day have labored at the construction site for more than a year.

“Providing the jobs is enormous,” Woody said. “And the materials are sent on a truck … it just fans out into the economy.”

The project also came just before costs of construction materials began skyrocketing, making it a good investment for Sentara, Woody said.

“Somebody had the gumption or the will to know that this was the right thing to do,” Woody said.

The addition not only expands the hospital’s current capacity, but also provides for future expansion. Although the main hospital building was not built to support additional stories, the tower addition can go up to seven stories, allowing the hospital to expand more down the line.

“Sentara invested a lot of money” making sure the building allowed for future growth, Woody said.

Check agreed the need is there for future expansion.

“Realizing that Suffolk is in a growth phase, and Isle of Wight is growing as well, there is a definite need,” she said.