By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
If you’ve been on the hospital’s third floor west wing lately, you’ll have noticed a striking transformation along hallways, waiting rooms, nursing stations and patient rooms.
Calming earth tones colors, modern furniture and high-tech beds have replaced the out-of-style purple, green and teal walls and floors at Cullman Regional Medical Center. CRMC is putting the finishing touches on that 26-room floor which includes the pediatric and Burrow wings. Once complete, the $5 million, three-year project will see all four wings at CRMC renovated and upgraded with 115 new state-of-the-art “smart beds.”
The CRMC Foundation launched its Refresh-A-Room campaign in December 2011. Officials had first discussed replacing the beds that are original to the CRMC campus opened on Alabama 157 in 1995. The new “smart beds” feature technology that can take a patients vitals and send them directly to nursing stations for monitoring. They also have automatic alarms to notify staff if patients may be falling out of bed as well as internal scales to weigh larger patients without getting them out bed. At $10,000 per bed, the hospital and foundation began exploring the idea of an entire overhaul.
“We will essentially have a completely new hospital for pennies on the dollar for what other health systems in Alabama have invested to build new,” said Jim Weidner, CRMC president and chief executive officer.
Construction began in the summer of 2012, and as the foundation has raised money for the project, rooms have been renovated. As work winds down on the third-floor east wing, crews have moved on to the second floor which houses the maternity unit. Funds are being raised now for the third and fourth floors east.
The goal is to not only update the hospital’s overall look but also create a more pleasant environment for patients, their families and medical staff. Weidner said as the responsibility of taking care of loved ones falls more and more to families, providing more enjoyable accommodations during hospital stays will encourage relatives to remain close by as their next of kin recovers.
“We know when someone’s loved one is sick, being in a sterile hospital environment is probably not the most pleasant place to be,” Weidner said. “With the new rooms, we’re improving the safety and aesthetics as well as comfort for families and patients.”
The update also includes remodeled bathrooms, sleek brown storage cabinets and large fold-out couches for relatives to rest during overnight hospital visits.
As quickly as the newly refurbished rooms become available, patients and their physicians request them, Weidner said.
“Since the word has started to get out into the community, we’re kind of at a point of no return. We can’t turn back now. We have to push ahead and get it done,” he said.
CRMC is saving money on the project by utilizing its in-house maintenance to complete some of the work including painting, electrical, mechanical and flooring. A standard private room would cost $25,000 to renovate, but by doing the work in-house, that cost has been whittled down to $18,000.
Up to four entities (families, civic organizations, companies) can pool their money together to fund the renovation of a room, said Maria Stanford, CRMC Foundation executive director.
Even though the renovation is only a quarter of the way done, Danny McAfee, CRMC Foundation Refresh-A-Room campaign chair said he and other officials are confident Cullman area residents and businesses will support the project’s completion.
“Cullman has always taken pride in what we have as a community,” McAfee said. “We have a lot of support from our businesses, and our local leaders are behind us on this.”
Added Weidner: “When this community puts its mind to something, it will find a way to do it.”
For more information about the renovation or to donate, call the CRMC Foundation at 256-737-2558.
*Tiffeny Owens can be reached email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.