by Joan Tupponce
In 1977, Sentara Leigh Hospital was referred to as the “country club” of hospitals because all of its patient rooms were private. Now, 33 years later, those rooms are among the smallest in the Hampton Roads area. That will change when the hospital completes a $130.6 million renovation.
In July, Sentara filed for a Certificate of Public Need with the State Health Commissioner’s office to build a five-story tower. Rooms will be upgraded and enlarged by 53 percent, from 136 square feet to 290 square feet. The project also includes the replacement of the central utility plant and the construction of a new lobby and entrances as well as clinical support space for a pharmacy, physical therapy and dialysis.
The project is part of a 2007 master facility plan that also included the recent renovation of surgical suites and an expansion of the emergency room. “This is the next phase of the master facility plan,” says hospital administrator Terrie Edwards. “We hope to have final approval by the end of December.” The health commissioner’s staff has recommended conditional approval.
Sentara already is working with architects on the tower’s design. If all goes as planned, construction is expected to begin after the completion of the new Sentara Princess Anne hospital. It is scheduled to open next August.
“The exciting part of the new tower at Sentara Leigh is that it has a very efficient floor plan,” Edwards says. “The rooms are nicely planned, and we will have floor efficiencies that we don’t currently have. The positioning of services will give it more of a flow. We’re also taking advantage of new technology. The facility will be designed around electronic medical records.”
The project will also include the Orthopedic Center at Leigh, a separate area with complete orthopedic services, including rehabilitation and physical therapy. “Currently we have an excellent service, but it’s scattered in different places,” Edwards says. “This will be consolidated.”
The renovation will be partly funded by Sentara. “One of the strengths of Sentara is that it has been a good financial steward,” Edwards says. “Sentara will invest 20 percent and get a loan for the remaining balance.”
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