Queen of the Valley Medical Center has begun offering private rooms for patients as part of a two-month pilot program that takes advantage of space that would otherwise be unoccupied.
The program began March 20 when 26 private rooms became available for patients at no extra charge.
The rooms previously belonged to two different units — 2 North and 2 Northwest — but they have been combined to function as one unit, according to hospital officials.
Three of the rooms can revert back to double occupancy if Queen of the Valley receives an influx of patients, according to officials.
The average daily patient census for Queen of the Valley is 85, said Vanessa deGier, director of communications and marketing. The hospital is licensed for approximately 190 beds, but those beds are categorized for different services — such as perinatal services and newborn intensive care. Hospital officials estimated that 97 beds are for medical/surgical services.
With a lower patient census in recent years, Queen of the Valley had been using 2 Northwest as a “swing unit” — it would open and close depending on the patient census, said Carrie Zaidel, director of cardiovascular services.
Offering private rooms for patients was a way to maximize the space, and it’s already proved beneficial for patients and staff, said Suki Stanton, chief nursing officer.
“Private rooms are what people want,” Stanton said.
The rooms “promote healing,” Stanton said, by offering a quieter atmosphere and allowing patients to get better sleep.
Families also are able to spread out and still have private conversations without being “bunched around the bed,” she said.
One of the nurses recently observed a patient sitting around a table with two family members, all of them playing dominos, Stanton said. For the nurse, that scene was a perfect example of a “healing environment,” she said.
Zaidel said one of the most striking things about the unit is the level of quiet.
“I didn’t think there was anyone up on the unit when I first walked in,” she said.
Currently, private rooms are available only to cardiac care patients, including those who are recovering from open-heart surgery.
There is no additional charge for having a private room, and private rooms cannot be requested. The rooms are assigned based on medical need, deGier said.
If the pilot program is successful, Queen of the Valley plans to offer private rooms in other areas of the hospital.
Success of the program will be determined by patient satisfaction surveys, as well as surveys of the nursing staff and feedback from physicians.