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Eccles Critical Care Pavilion is unveiled at U. Hospital

University Hospital's trauma services are getting a major boost with completion of a $42.5 million expansion project, the first for the hospital in more than 20 years. The critical care pavilion includes a new emergency department, surgery center and surgical intensive care unit.

Dedicated with a Friday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony that drew both health-care providers and public officials, the new George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Critical Care Pavilion will begin phasing in its services this weekend, with everything in place sometime Tuesday.

"This is a great step forward for us in terms of capacity," said Richard A. Fullmer, executive director of University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics. "We outgrew our previous facilities five to 10 years ago and have been having to limit the number of patients we can take care of because of that."

Fullmer said the U. has hired more than 70 nurses of its target of 100 for the new center, not a mean feat given the nursing shortage. It's a challenge, he said, to hold even, much less expand.

The expansion was paid for with $25 million in bonding, a community fund drive, private donations and an in-house campaign that brought in donations from more than 2,000 hospital employees.

One of the pavilion's focuses is on what Fullmer calls "ooch room" — room to grow, including more than 17,000 feet of space in the existing hospital that has been freed up for other uses.

Emergency medical care is moving to the building's new emergency center, which has doubled in size and can care for up to 34,000 patients each year, including patients in six "fast-track" rooms designed for those with less severe injuries. The emergency center, which is a secure area, also has 21 rooms for acute care, including specialized rooms to treat burn and obstetrics patients.

Among other features of the new, 111,000-square-foot building are:

Four operating rooms, with room for two more if needed.

Twenty-six surgical intensive care unit beds with room to add six more (the existing unit had 12 beds).

An all-night Starbucks Cafe with seating for more than 100.

A 150-stall parking terrace with three helicopter landing pads.

The three-story pavilion was designed to accommodate later expansion up two more floors, said Don Finlayson, architect with Architectural Nexus. Layton built the facility.

The emergency center bears the name of its major donors, William H. and Patricia W. Child. Besides the expanded treatment rooms, it will offer bedside registration, two triage rooms, larger-than-the-normal patient rooms and an electronic-data information system to keep track of everything from patient procedures and status to basic record-keeping.

The Eccles pavilion also has two trauma and four critical care suites.

The hospital's expansion also includes extensive decontamination and hazardous materials equipment in case of a community emergency, and more X-ray-related staff and equipment to cut down on delays in radiology. Two social workers also will be available around the clock.

The short-stay surgery center includes six new operating rooms, with new emphasis on minimally invasive surgery to allow fewer and smaller incisions and a faster recovery. According to Dr. Sean Mulvihill, department chairman and professor of surgery at the U., it's the first in the Intermountain West with a designated minimally invasive surgery suite. Surgery-related services are being co-located in the pavilion.

The surgical intensive care unit will reportedly be the largest in the region with 32 beds and three nurses' stations, each with a pneumatic tube station through which medical products can be received from lab, pharmacy and storeroom locations.

The surgical intensive care unit rooms have extra-large windows because experts claim sunlight helps patients get well. And the design makes it easy to see patients from the nursing stations. Privacy was also a key concern in designing the building.

Bridges now connect the pavilion, Primary Children's Medical Center, the Moran Eye Center, the main hospital and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

The public can get its first look at the hospital expansion during an open house Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will include free health screenings, medical careers information, health activities such as an emergency room teddy bear clinic and prize giveaways.