University Hospital to expand orthopedics



University Hospital will spend nearly $9 million to gut and renovate a floor of the hospital to accommodate its growing orthopedics and spinal surgery practices, officials said.

University’s boards approved spending $8.82 million to completely redo the ninth floor of the hospital and move orthopedics and spinal surgery patients there. The Neuro Intensive Care Unit that had been on that floor will move to a new home on the fifth floor and expand from 10 to 15 beds.

Space is limited for those surgery patients in their current home on the 10th floor, said Lynda Watts, the vice president of patient care services. The rooms are just too cramped, said Reyne Gallup, the director of medical/surgical nursing services.

“Patients have to turn almost to the side to get in the bathroom,” she said. “You have to actually move furniture out of the room to be able to get the patients out of the bed sometimes in the smaller rooms.”

It also makes it harder to get patients back up after surgery, Gallup said.

“We try our best to get the patients up the day of surgery,” she said. “More and more, we’re walking them earlier, like 30 minutes after they get to the floor.”

That helps patients recover better and be able to head home sooner, Gallup said.

The new rooms will also have an area to accommodate family, which is part of better treatment, she said.

“The families can become more integral coaches for them in their recovery,” Gallup said.

The new floor will accommodate a rehabilitation gym that the current floor could not, Watts said.

Not only are those services growing but they are also getting recognition, University CEO Jim Davis said. Orthopedics, joint replacement and spine surgery programs at University were included in the Healthgrades Top 100 of the most highly rated programs in the country, he said.

University’s boards on Thursday heard a positive year-end financial report that found, with non-operating and investment income added in, Univer­sity cleared about $40 million last year, not counting about $39 million in depreciation, Chief Financial Officer Dave Belkoski said.

“We closed ’13 on a good note,” he said.

University also spent $59.5 million in capital expenditures last year, including $30 million to build a replacement hospital for McDuffie County that is scheduled to open at year’s end, Davis said.

“That’s why we make money, to reinvest right here,” he said.

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