New look at Lakeland Hospital

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Lakeland Hospital of Niles is finally starting to see some results from its $20 million facility improvement plan.
The renovations focus on creating a more patient-centered environment and making the hospital more user-friendly for outpatients.
In December, the A-2 patient unit became fully operational for the first time since construction began in February 2003.
Debra Johnson, Executive Director of Lakeland Hospital, Niles, said it is the first in-patient area to be renovated and reopened as a part of the facility upgrade.
She said one way they have tried to improve "the health care experience" is by catering to the families of patients.
Johnson said it was important to incorporate families into the experience because they will frequently be at the hospitals to spend time with the patients.
One way they have tried to make the families feel more comfortable is by including a family lounge in the A-2 unit.
The lounge provides a place to relax if they can not be in the patient's room. It has a television and kitchen with appliances donated by Whirlpool.
In addition to the new lounge, the renovations to the A-2 patient unit include a redesigned nurses' station with a private charting area,
two new handicapped accessible restrooms, staff lounge area and more patient rooms with soothing colors, artwork and natural light.
The private patient rooms have increased from four to eight rooms. This space was made available by removing the two four-bed wards that were previously a part of A-2.
Johnson said the design of the rooms has gone along with their recently adopted Planetree philosophy of care, which attempts to "demystify the hospital experience."
Lakeland adopted the Planetree philosophy in 2000 and is currently one of only 80 hospitals in the nation with this way of thinking.
It is currently the only Planetree hospital in the State of Michigan.
Johnson said other improvements to the Lakeland Hospital include a complete redesign of the main entrance and renovations to the radiology department, the heart center and the A-3 medical floor.
Johnson hopes that all construction in the hospital will be completed by the end of the year.
She said the staff at Lakeland Hospital, Niles has been forced to move around 80 times since the renovations began.
The hospital will be holding a community open house to celebrate the opening of the A-2 patient unit on Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m.
This celebration is open to the public and is free of charge.
For more information, call (269) 687-1401.

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