Newswise — Loyola University Hospital's new patient tower does more than give the hospital a grand front entrance in the heart of the campus. The $120 million project also will help patients heal faster.

The 170,000-square-foot structure combines the latest medical technology, such as a pharmacy robot and super-strength MRI machine, with patient rooms offering flat-screen TVs, internet access and spectacular views of the Chicago skyline.

"We've created a facility that blends elements and colors from nature to enhance the healing experience," said Paul Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, president and chief executive officer of Loyola University Health System (LUHS). "At the same time, it elegantly assimilates the high-tech amenities that our patients have come to expect from Loyola as a leading academic medical center."

The new building clearly establishes the hospital's main entrance. Its identity as a Catholic hospital is honored with a cross built into its pinnacle and exterior embellishments of the Loyola sword and shield, which are repeated in the building's interior detail. A healing garden offers patients and visitors a place for prayer and meditation, important tenets of Loyola's Catholic-Jesuit tradition of reflection.

Each of the 64 new private rooms has a large bathroom, flat-screen television, wireless internet access and plenty of natural light through large windows. East-facing rooms offer views of the Chicago skyline and Miller Meadow forest preserve. The rooms have calming colors, and patients have the option of turning down the lighting.

Earth, water and sky themes echo throughout the building. In the atrium lobby, water cascades down an 18-foot waterfall. The lobby, finished in natural materials such as white maple and Egyptian limestone, is named for former LUHS Board Chairman Frank W. Considine and his wife, Nancy S. Considine. Their pledged gift helped to create the welcoming area.

Loyola's renowned Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine occupies a large portion of the main floor. It comprises eight new interventional laboratories: four cardiac catheterization laboratories, and four cardiac electrophysiology laboratories. It also features private patient holding/recovery rooms and new areas for non-invasive cardiac and peripheral vascular diagnostics. Named for donors William G. and Mary A. Ryan, the center will hold the area's first magnetic-guided navigation system for treatment of conditions such as heart rhythm disorders, heart failure and coronary artery disease.

Twelve state-of-the-art operating rooms, flanked by pre-operative and recovery areas, are powered by equipment concealed on the third floor. A pathology laboratory adjacent to the operating suites will allow for tissue testing that will guide surgeons as they work. Patients are transported to surgery and diagnostic tests via private hallways that remain faithful to the color scheme and feature nature-inspired artworks.

A new style of caringPatients in the new building will notice some distinctive qualities about the staff as well. Nurses will be instantly identifiable in their new uniforms: fresh blue scrub tops and pants, topped off with white jackets. Nurses will follow a new patient-and-family-centered model of care that increases the amount of time they spend at each patient's bedside. Nurses will convene small "hallway huddles" to confer about patients with complex conditions. The building is designed to support this evidence-based model by eliminating large, central nursing stations on the patient floors and replacing them with smaller stations outside the patient rooms. Other staff members, such as patient care technicians and transporters, will also wear uniforms to help patients instantly recognize who they are. There are designated teaching areas on the floors for doctors and nurses in training.

Completion of the building concludes Phase I of the four phases of the $120 million expansion project. Although the new construction component is now complete, work to revamp the existing hospital building will continue through October 2009. The additional phases will include renovation and reconstruction of the adjoining Russo Pavilion, involving more than 60,000 square feet of the existing hospital's first and second floors.

What's Inside the Loyola University Hospital Tower?

Rooms with a ViewAll patient rooms are private, and have wireless internet capability, flat-screen TVs and sofa beds for visiting family members. Many of the east-facing rooms have views of the Chicago skyline or forest preserve.

Seeing Your Operation on TVPatients will be placed in private holding areas before and after undergoing heart catheterizations and heart rhythm treatments. TV monitors allow patients and doctors to review footage from their procedures. Each OR will be located next to the pathology lab, allowing for immediate testing of tissue. One of the ORs will be equipped with a robot to assist surgeons in minimally invasive procedures.

Pharmacy Robot Loyola University Hospital will be the first center in Chicago to utilize a Swiss-made robotic system to dispense patient-specific, bar-coded medication that will be scanned by a nurse at the patient's bedside. The robotic system is designed to enhance patient safety by reducing medication errors

Super-Strength MRIA $2.7 million MRI will produce a 3-T magnetic field twice as strong as most MRIs now in use, providing much sharper images. Neurosurgeons will be able to detect and remove smaller tumors in the brain, while hand surgeons will have a much better view of small finger joints. This is the most powerful MRI available for use in patient care. Gentle Touch Heart CatheterLoyola will be the first Chicago-area hospital to treat heart rhythm disorders with magnetically guided catheters. In conventional systems, the cardiac electrophysiologist manually twists and turns a stiff catheter into position. In the new system, a metal-tipped catheter is guided by computer-controlled electromagnets on either side of the patient. This magnetic navigation is smoother and more precise.

Improved communicationBedside computer charting will maximize the time the nurse spends with a patient. A privacy-coded patient tracking system will help family members waiting for a patient to leave surgery and recovery.

Inside the Considine atrium

An 18-foot waterfallEgyptian limestone accentsLoyola sword and shield embellishmentsWood wall trim

Throughout the Tower

Leaf-patterned carpetWalls and accents in earth and sky tonesArtwork that evokes natureRestful waiting areas that promote calm

Other features

A first-floor café for coffee, snacks and lunchesA meditation garden