NCH in the News

Emergency room at NCH Downtown Baker Hospital getting $35M upgrade

by Liz Freeman | Jan 15, 2020

Construction workers are a fixture at NCH Baker Hospital Downtown for the next two years.

The emergency room at the nonprofit hospital is undergoing a $35 million renovation that will include a two-story addition with an observation unit to handle patient fluctuations during busier winter months.

The last renovation was in 2008. The emergency room at NCH Downtown saw roughly 38,000 patients in 2019, which is down from nearly 39,000 patients the year before.

The volume is projected to stay the same going forward.

Paul Hiltz, CEO and president of NCH, said in a statement that the system’s vision for enhancing emergency room care at the Downtown hospital will be “taking shape literally before our eyes” in the coming months.

Phil Dutcher shows diagram for hospital's future upgrades

Phil Dutcher, chief operations officer for NCH Healthcare System shows a diagram for the hospital's future upgrades and renovations plans for their downtown emergency room and information technology offices during a tour, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at NCH Baker Hospital Downtown in Naples. (Photo: Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK - FLORIDA)

“The innovative facility planned will continue to focus on the comfort of the patient while providing efficient, and technologically sophisticated emergency care and expanded access to our nationally recognized stroke and cardiac programs — all within 10 miles or less for most residents of Collier and southern Lee counties,” Hiltz said in the statement.

NCH renovated the emergency room at its North Naples Hospital in 2014. It opened its first freestanding emergency department off Immokalee Road near Collier Boulevard in 2015. A second freestanding emergency department opened in late 2018 in Bonita Springs.

Rendering of Emergency Room upgrade at NCH Baker Hospital Downtown

Rendering of emergency room upgrade at NCH Baker Hospital Downtown. (Photo: Submitted)

The renovation of the ER at the Downtown campus has been on the drawing board for several years and needed approvals from the city of Naples. The city is requiring new turn lanes and a lighted pedestrian crosswalk on Fourth Avenue North.

The emergency room, which faces north on Fourth Avenue North, will be renovated and the patient entrance will be moved to the two-story addition that is closer to Eighth Street North.

The 19,000-square foot addition will be built in an existing parking area although one row of parking will be available outside the complex, along with parking across the street with valet service, said Phil Dutcher, chief operations officer.

It will feature a contemporary curved front with lots of glass to allow natural lighting.

The emergency room now has 33 beds and will expand to 44 beds with the latest “smart” technology for upgraded cardiac monitoring and patient flow tracking.

About $4 million will be spent on medical technology out of the nearly $9 million budgeted for equipment, furniture and information technology. The builder is DeAngelis Diamond.

Jonathan Kling, chief nursing officer, said the community has been supportive of the entire project and his nursing staff is grateful.

"We are excited to have an expanded and modern facility that is geared towards a geriatric population as well as capable of handling the most complex patients, all while providing greater noise control and privacy," he said in an email.

The interior design will be patient-focused and includes features that accommodate a geriatric population and their families.

Workers with Wildcat Renovations LLC work to dismantle walls

Works with Wildcat Renovations LLC, work to dismantle walls Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at NCH Baker Hospital Downtown's former information technology offices in Naples. (Photo: Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK - FLORIDA)

For instance, lighting will be enhanced and there will be handrails and special flooring for slip prevention. Noise reduction features will be added and there will be geriatric furniture that provides more comfort and protection against bruising.

The second floor of the addition will have an 18-bed observation unit with six additional open bays to handle flow during the busier winter months

All of the work will be done in four stages to address the need for the emergency room to remain open, Dutcher said.

The two-story addition will be done in the first phase over the next 11 months, followed by renovation to part of the existing emergency room and observation unit that will take about five months.

The third and fourth phases will involve renovation to different areas of the existing emergency room. Each phase is expected to span four months.

“The entrance now will remain during construction and then shift to the new entrance, but that is well down the road,” Dutcher said. “We will make improvements to Fourth Avenue North. There will be a median and two blinking lights.”

About $19 million toward the $35-million project cost has been raised through philanthropy, he said. What doesn’t get raised will involve use of capital reserves.

During the NCH Hospital Ball on Nov. 9, supporters raised $2.14 million toward the ER project. More than 350 supporters attended the ball.

Construction projects are difficult for hospitals because of requirements to create barriers to protect patients and employees from the construction activity and materials, Dutcher said.