Jeremy Armstrong, St. Luke Hospital CEO, tried to keep the tone light Sunday with his opening remarks at the ribbon-cutting and open house for the 17-month, $6.2 million renovation by using a top-10 list of things he learned during the project.
“Number eight, Living Center residents can double as field supervisors when needed,” Armstrong joked. The lobby full of patrons laughed as Armstrong described how some St. Luke Living Center residents made almost daily visits to check on the progress of construction.
But Armstrong became visibly moved as he talked about the contributions of people who were at the top of his list.
“This is an open house for a building, and it’s a beautiful building. But it’s important for us to remember it’s what happens inside this building that’s most important, and it’s people who make that happen,” Armstrong said.
“What we asked the nurses and the rest of the staff to go through — I understand now why it is that some hospital administrators say ‘Let’s build a new hospital,’” Armstrong said. “We can be in a beautiful building, but without great staff it’s all for naught.”
Among the estimated 300 people who attended the open house, none felt a greater connection to the completion of renovation than project architect Greg Tice, of Spangenberg Phillips Tice, who looked on as his father, Marion County Hospital District No. 1 Board President Martin Tice, cut the bright blue ribbon at the lobby entrance.
“Having grown up here, and my mom used to work here, and remembering all the different additions that went on in the past, it’s pretty special,” Greg said.
The upgraded facilities will provide for enhanced patient care and improved hospital operations.
St. Luke Hospital Foundation board member Janice Case was the first patient to use the new hydrotherapy pool in the expanded physical therapy department.
“Years ago it was horrid, you were behind curtains where you heard what everyone said and you know who they were,” Case said. “Now it’s really nice, and it’s so much bigger.”
Case expressed pride in the community for supporting the capital campaign that helped to finance the project.
“I think it’s wonderful, the support and the money,” Case said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Gene Winkler, Marion Ambulance crew member and former hospital board member, spoke glowingly of the new emergency facilities.
“We used to just have the little ER there, which had two beds with no privacy,” Winkler said. “Now we’ve got two big ERs plus the trauma room — it’s really nice.”
The renovations included a new operating room, enhanced inpatient rooms and four outpatient rooms, a new nursing station, a new laboratory, new heating and cooling systems, a new kitchen, cooler, and dining area, aesthetic and ADA enhancements to the main entrance, reconfigured business office space, and wireless compter networking.
Armstrong was grateful for the show of community support at the open house.
“We were worried about getting all the people in here and getting them on tours,” Armstrong said. “It was very impressive.”