PROVO — Patients at Intermountain Healthcare's Utah Valley Hospital will soon be treated to the most technologically advanced rooms with a view that are bigger and much more private.
The hospital is wrapping up a $430-million, four-year building replacement project, getting rid of outdated facilities, some of which are nearly 80 years old.
The public can tour the newly completed Todd and Andie Pedersen Patient Tower, named for the BYU graduate and Vivint Smart Home founder, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Patients will be moved to a fully operational facility on Jan. 27.
All that is left to complete the project is a pedestrian bridge over 500 West, a healing garden in place of the old east tower, which will be torn down beginning in February, and upgrades to a couple older spaces that will have new hospital-related occupants, said hospital spokeswoman Janet Frank.
"It really has been necessary," she said, adding that the aging hospital has become outdated. It is increasingly more common for patients to have friends and family stay with them through the duration of their hospitalization and there just isn't room in the smaller rooms in the old east tower.
"As technology and medicine has advanced, the rooms just haven't," Frank said.
New patient rooms are at least double the size of the aging ones and offer all the necessary medical equipment at the ready. The 600,000-square-foot, 12-story building is also designed to allow for relatively quick expansion of its already enhanced intensive care unit, should the need arise.
In addition to the 234 patient rooms — just 10 more than was in the old building — the Pedersen Tower houses a larger and better-designed emergency department, new surgical and interventional space, imaging and a new clinical evaluation unit. The 10th floor has room for future expansion, when it is needed and, of course, there will be a newly designed gift shop and cafeteria.
Frank said that once it is officially open, the cafeteria, now on the main floor, will again be offering its famous milkshakes, which have become a favorite of many BYU students who frequent the eatery just because.
She said a good number of community members also have their favorites at the cafeteria, and a more friendly and open space will allow for more interaction.
"The cafeteria is going to be awesome," Frank said, adding that there is more seating and a bigger cafeteria space to enhance the culinary selection.
The Pedersen Tower, which stands across from the already functional Sorenson Legacy Tower for outpatient services, becomes the tallest building in the valley and serves patients from all over Utah County — one of the fastest-growing counties in the country — and throughout central Utah.
Overcrowding hasn't been an issue at the hospital, and Frank said it's serving an ever-growing population and still meeting wait-time goals and efficiency standards, even amid construction and displacement of some services.
Provo ranked second in the nation for job growth in 2015, when the hospital replacement project began, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. A thriving tech industry is fueling growth and housing markets throughout the county, as population in the region is expected to double by 2030.
Hospital care across the nation is changing, though, as more services are offered through outpatient procedures than ever before. Frank said that when Intermountain's leaders talk about the future, they often say that "hospitals are places for the most sick and the most injured patients" — offering more acute services than is available anywhere else.
"As the community has grown and the need for more advanced, high-quality health care has increased, we have responded by designing a campus that will not only allow for leading-edge care today, but allows for the same level of treatment for decades to come," Steve Smoot, former south region vice president for Intermountain and hospital CEO, said in a June 2015 statement.
Groundbreaking for the massive hospital renovation was just two days later.
One of the main goals of the project, Frank said, was "to replace the aging facilities and parts of our campus with new facilities that have the best possible rooms for our patients and is seismically sound."
The 4-foot-thick concrete foundation for the new buildings took 85 truck drivers from three concrete plants 10 hours to put down, and 237 steel columns, with a combined weight of more than 26,000 pounds, were drilled 32 feet into the ground to support the towers.Comment on this story
Intermountain officials believe its newest hospital — one of 22 the health care system operates in Utah and Idaho — really offers "the best possible."
"Everyone on every floor of the hospital is looking forward to this," Frank said. "We all know how much better it will be and how much better it will be for our patients."
The hospital, located at 1034 N. 500 West in Provo, held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday at 6 p.m. The open house is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parking for the public open house is available on the south side of the Pedersen Tower.