Novant making final adjustments to Matthews expansion

MATTHEWS – Crews are at work this week on the new fifth floor of the Novant Health Matthews Medical Center, stocking shelves and putting the final touches on the 26,000-foot expansion in time for a ribbon-cutting ceremony later this month.

The new floor will be unveiled to the public on Sept. 25, a Wednesday, with a celebration from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The public will be able to tour the floor and find more information about hospital services at the event. Officials say 35 percent of the patients they treat are Union County residents.

For hospital staff and leaders, the expansion marks a step in a new direction for the growing Matthews campus. At five floors, the main hospital building is now as high as it can go, with the expansion bringing an additional 20 beds to the facility. Hospital leaders hope to add more beds in the near future in the first four floors.

“Everybody’s excited,” said Chris Hutter, director of operations at the hospital, while giving a tour of the floor on Wednesday, Sept. 18. “… It’s new, modern, state-of-the-art equipment.”

The $19 million expansion is the first major work at the hospital since it was established 19 years ago, Hutter said, and along with new equipment on the fifth floor and eventually throughout the facility, hospital staff say the expansion will allow for a number of improvements for patients. The new rooms are all equipped with computers as Novant moves toward totally electronic records by March 2014, and the expansion has allowed the hospital to put intermediate and intensive care rooms on the same floor – creating an easier transition for patients as they improve, Hutter said.

The floor also will include three hospice and palliative care rooms, a new addition to the hospital. In the past, Novant has had to transfer hospice patients to its facility in uptown Charlotte. The addition will remove the need for patients and families to travel out of Matthews for hospice care while also providing a support room for families to use while their loved one stays at the hospital.

The expansion should make things easier for nurses and support staff, Hutter said, as each room will now have a secure storage area just outside the door. That will alleviate the need for nurses to have to navigate through the hospital every time they need additional supplies like syringes or blankets for a patient during treatment – something Hutter hopes will translate to additional bedside time for each patient. The goal, Hutter said, is to eventually get patients as much as eight hours of bedside time. The expansion also means an additional 22 hospital employees, Hutter said.

The additional floor comes at a time when Novant is seeing continued growth in Matthews of about 2 to 3 percent per year. The center currently sees 48,000 visits per year to its emergency room, and there is “always continuous need,” Hutter said.

The hospital is located at 1500 Matthews Township Pkwy. Find more information at the hospital’s website, www.presbyterian.org/PresbyterianHospitalMatthews.aspx.

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