Though David Entwistle's most recent experience at University Hospital was as a patient in his own facility, the hospital chief executive returned to work for the first time in weeks Tuesday to show off the newly expanded facility.
While his own recent transport to the hospital was via medical helicopter after a biking accident on May 23, Entwistle hopes to reduce stress by eliminating what many non-emergency patients saw as the worst part of their visit — circling the packed parking lot while praying for an open space.
An expanded valet parking service is one of several new features that will be touted later this month during a public open house to crown the hospital's $130 million expansion. Those who haven't been inside the facility for some time will likely appreciate the expansive new lobby, additional private patient rooms and the addition of 250 parking spaces.
Poised to see fellow employees for the first time in more than a month, Entwistle told the Deseret News on Tuesday that he's been recuperating at home for a little more than two weeks, after two weeks in the hospital following a biking accident during a triathlon in Tooele County.
He sustained a serious head injury, despite the fact that he was wearing a bike helmet.
"It didn't physically hurt my head," Entwistle said, "but as your brain gets bounced around within your head, there's swelling and potential bruising that occurs, and that's what happened. Fortunately, in my case, it was a very recoverable incident."
After becoming an unexpected patient in his own hospital, "it was interesting to be the CEO on the other side of your organization and see how it works. I'm excited to get back full time and hopefully I can do that within the next couple of weeks," he said.
Entwistle played host for the first of several small group "opening events" scheduled over the next two weeks for various VIPs, health-care officials and others before the official ribbon-cutting and open house on July 16.
While he believes visitors will be impressed with the changes, Entwistle said he hopes future patients will be better welcomed and served in the regional medical center, particularly the large percentage that come from surrounding states and rural areas.
"To some, it's the big city," he said. "We've tried to really create an easy way for them to navigate into our system. Trying to find parking and get in has been one of the most stressful things they do trying to access care. If we can help them get in more easily, it reduces their stress and makes it a better front-end process."
Entwistle has helped institute valet parking at other hospitals in the past, he said, and often patients are hesitant to use it at first.
"We don't even allow valets to take tips because we have a no-tipping policy," he said. "We don't want to create any stress on patients. It's hard enough to be there for what they need care for."
Opened in 1981, the hospital sees more than 600,000 patients in an average year, with peak volume at about 10,000 people per day. The second phase of the expansion to be completed this month includes a new seven-story (five stories above ground, two below ground), patient-care pavilion northwest of the old entrance.
Once the new phase is open, the hospital's old semiprivate rooms will undergo remodeling into private rooms that resemble the new building's 120 private rooms.
University Hospital expansion grand opening
July 16 — 10 a.m. ribbon cutting; 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. open house, refreshments, giveaways and self-guided tours.
New features and services:
120 new private patient rooms
New patient admitting, outpatient pharmacy in lobby
Inpatient food service, cafeteria
Shelled space for future growth and updated mechanical services.