Vermont's largest hospital plans big renovations - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont's largest hospital plans big renovations

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Khris Vroegop is the nursing manager of the maternity unit at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

"This is our standard double room. This is where all our patients come, whether they've had a regular delivery or C-section," she said.

But Fletcher Allen says the 50-year-old Shepardson fifth-floor mother-baby unit needs some changes, starting with the double-occupancy rooms, which have two beds in one room and one bathroom.

Reporter Gina Bullard: What are the problems you come across in here? I see there's a cot in here.

Khris Vroegop: To accommodate families we have to bring in an extra sleeping space for them, so this room is quite small.

Currently, if the room is occupied with two patients, family members can't stay overnight.

"The dads are devastated, the moms are devastated, the nurses... we just want those families here with us," Vroegop said.

The hospital is planning $15.4 million in renovations for a new mother-baby unit, possibly creating 25 patient rooms for 28 inpatient mothers. The hospital says along with making patients more comfortable, the private rooms will improve safety and efficiency.

"Our current plan is to relocate it to the seventh floor of the Baird building, which is occupied by the general clinical research program," said Dave Keelty, the director of facilities planning and development at FAHC.

The hospital is also looking at a possible new $85 million, two-story inpatient building above the emergency department parking lot, creating 48 beds.

"Predominantly we are semiprivate rooms and we want to move toward private, and this would be a step in that direction," Keelty said.

Currently less than 60 percent of Fletcher Allen's inpatient beds are private rooms.

But not all change comes easily. In a project that started in 2001, the hospital made headlines with a major expansion, ballooning costs and a criminal case that sent the CEO to federal prison after the hospital tried to hide the true cost of the project from state regulators.

Gina Bullard: What's different this time around?

Dave Keelty: Those are the days gone by, it happened over a decade ago. The organization, our CEO, the board, all the administration operates in a culture of transparency honesty and openness.

With Vermont moving toward a single-payer system, Fletcher Allen says these changes could bring a better standard of care and efficiency to health care.

Many of Fletcher Allen's plans are still in the conceptual phase. It still needs state approval to develop the projects.

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