Hefty investments yield big changes at Ontario hospital

Ken Hart, president of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center of Ontario, explains the medical advantages of a new intensive care wing at the local hospital July 11. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

ONTARIO – Jamie Taylor knows the new intensive care unit at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center – Ontario is a big deal.

The critical care unit manager for the Ontario hospital said the six new ICU rooms mean the Ontario hospital will be more versatile in delivering high-quality health service in the future.

 “The unit will be instrumental in giving our community the best care possible,” said Taylor.

Wednesday afternoon Taylor stood at the nurse’s station in the new ICU wing of the hospital as just down the hall a small crowd gathered for an open house to celebrate the new addition.

Taylor explained how important the new wing will be.

Especially for families of intensive care patients, the new rooms will be easy to access and, most of all, she said, bigger. That means more than one or two family members can visit or be on hand to help make crucial care decisions. The new ICU wing, though, also makes Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Ontario more agile, hospital president Ken Hart said.

“This keeps us equal with every other hospital in the Treasure Valley,” said Hart.

The new wing also diminishes the likelihood that a seriously ill or injured patient will be moved to Boise for care.

That’s because the new wing now provides the same high-tech resources found at the bigger hospitals in Boise. That makes a big difference for residents, said Hart.

“If we can treat you here, let’s keep you here,” said Hart.

The rooms in the new ICU unit also showcase automatic lifts above each bed to move heavier patients.

“Fifty percent of the equipment is new and we have also tried to reuse some things,” said Hart.

Another key to the upgrade, Taylor said, was a simple one: Sunlight.

“We used to get complaints there were not enough windows in the old critical care,” said Taylor.

Taylor said doctors also often want their recovering patients to have access to sunlight. Now the new rooms showcase windows that are big and wide.

“They also offer openness,” said Taylor.

Hart said the $11 million upgrade would pay dividends in the future.

“We will be able to keep and add new and updated equipment,” said Hart.

Hart said the six new rooms put the cap on a nearly $50 million investment over eight years by Trinity Health Care System in the Ontario hospital. “We want to provide everything here that Boise can to the best of our ability,” said Taylor.

Saint Alphonsus Medical Center contains 49 patient beds and employs more than 400 people.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.