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February 3, 2013

City appropriates $900,000 to CRMC over next 5 years

Will be used for hospital Foundation’s Refresh- A-Room campaign

The City of Cullman has pledged nearly $1 million to help fund Cullman Regional Medical Center’s renovation initiative over the next five years.

City officials have built a $180,000 annual appropriation into the budget for the next five years, which will provide $900,000 to the hospital’s ongoing Refresh-A-Room campaign. The campaign calls for upgrades in equipment and offerings to outdated rooms at the Cullman hospital campus.

The city’s appropriations are being funded from the new alcohol revenue account, which has been used for everything from the downtown facade program to non-profit allocations over the past two years since alcohol sales were legalized.

Cullman Mayor Max Townson said they made the Foundation project a priority to ensure the area remains competitive in the healthcare field.

“We’ve always felt the hospital is a huge asset to our community,” he said. “When you have an asset like Cullman Regional Medical Center you promote it and protect, so that’s why we’re helping them out. When those rooms are used 24/7 they can get dinged up, so we want to help them make some improvements.”

To date the campaign has raised approximately $1.5 million from pledges and fundraisers, just under half of its $3.5 million goal. The initiative had a soft launch in late 2011, but officials say they are only now ramping up fundraising efforts. Interested donors are now able to “sponsor” rooms, receiving an honorary nameplate at the door, for between $18,000-$25,000.

“We are raising capital funds to restore each patient room to meet current standard of care requirements,” CRMC Foundation Director Maria Stanford said. “We’re trying to create a better way to get better with modern aesthetics designed to facilitate a relaxed, less clinical environment for patients and families.”

A third floor wing of patient rooms has already been renovated and Stanford said the master plan calls for the entire hospital to receive a similar upgrade. Officials hope to renovate all 145 patient rooms, the main lobby, waiting rooms and nurse stations.

The new patient rooms will feature “smart” beds capable of taking vital signs and weight measurements, upgraded equipment (i.e. new computers, flat screen televisions, etc.) and more storage space. Patient bathrooms are also being overhauled and the entire facility will soon shift to an earth-tone color scheme in furniture and decor. Officials say they’re aiming for a more “hotel-like feel” with the revamp.

Stanford noted the current campus is nearly 20 years old and long overdue for a facelift.

“It’s important we update the rooms and get the most modern technology available for our patients and community,” she said.

Construction will be underway over the next few years, though Stanford said they do not anticipate it will be much of a distraction. The project is being handled room-by-room and officials hope the more measured approach will minimize interference with day to day operations.

The Refresh-A-Room campaign is the second major initiative from the Foundation in the past decade. The hospital recently completed a $6 million renovation of the emergency department that provided similar upgrades and aesthetic changes as the proposed Refresh-A-Room effort.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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