University of Utah hospital completes new wing, adds 100 jobs to staff it

Posted at 11:34 AM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 18:12:34-05

SALT LAKE CITY -  The University of Utah hospital now has the answer to solve overcrowding issues and the rise in patients.

It has finished a new 30,000-square-foot wing that will allow the U of U to take in thousands more patients each year.

The 38 rooms within the wing’s three pods feature state-of-the-art equipment, as well as a focus on calm and pleasing color palettes and aesthetics.

The hospital said it raced to design and build the expansion to help with the overcrowding.

“It was like: ‘Wow! This is serious. We got to get it done,’” said Jerry North, Director of Design and Construction for University Hospitals and Clinics.

He said the team had, from start to finish, nine months to get the new area up and running—an extreme undertaking for a project that size, North said.

The new wing will see what the hospital calls "medicine patients," or those with multiple health conditions.

Chief Nursing Officer Margaret Pearce said the hospital’s seen a huge spike in those patients in the past year and a half. They’d been sending patients to other units and facilities in order to treat them.

“The medicine patients have been being cared for on units like surgery units,” she explained.

That’s why the quick construction was crucial.

"We knew we needed to build something… for this population of patients, and so we started the construction right away,” Pearce said.

Designers went as far as calculating how many steps it would take the nurses to reach patients to maximize efficiency—hence the wing’s separation into three, self-contained pods.

“It really makes a difference for the efficiency,” North said. “They’ve done studies where they’re taking twenty steps less than they used to take on other units.”

The hospital added more than 100 jobs to staff the new wing. Pearce said each room can take in new patients every three to five days, which would come down to more than 2,000 patients a year.

The new wing officially opens on Monday.