Hospital expanding

SIBLEY, Iowa -- The new birthing suites at Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley opened earlier this month and are already drawing rave reviews from new parents who can experience labor, delivery and recovery in the privacy and comfort of one hosp...

SIBLEY, Iowa -- The new birthing suites at Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley opened earlier this month and are already drawing rave reviews from new parents who can experience labor, delivery and recovery in the privacy and comfort of one hospital room.

Featuring the latest in comfort and technology -- from a whirlpool tub in the private bathrooms to lighting used during delivery dropping down from a hidden compartment in the ceiling -- the birthing suites cater to families with the inclusion of large, flat-screen televisions, microwaves and small refrigerators. Built-ins in the rooms hide the necessary medical equipment, such as fetal monitors, while a loveseat in each suite folds out into a sleeping area for family members.

"The (rooms are) large enough for families and we really encourage families to stay here," said Julie Schroder, director of nursing at Osceola Community Hospital. The suites replace the two patient rooms and a separate delivery room the hospital had in place since it opened in 1964.

The birthing suites are just one of the new features at the hospital, which is nearing the end of the first phase of its four-phase, approximately $7 million expansion and renovation project.

Janet Dykstra, hospital administrator and CEO, said the birthing suites were ready in time for an Oct. 3 delivery at the hospital, while two new surgical suites are opening this week, with the first scheduled surgery planned in one of the suites today.


The new, larger surgical suites feature equipment attached to moveable arms that extend from the ceiling, making it easier for doctors and staff to work on patients. Dykstra said the larger surgical space will make it possible for the hospital to provide more surgeries and services to patients.

"There's a lot of opportunity for growth," she said. "It will be nice to have additional space for more services."

Four new patient rooms also opened earlier this month, and work continues in other areas of the expansion project. By early November, Dykstra said a new coffee kiosk will open in a portion of what is now the courtyard, and new rooms added onto the wellness center will allow for expanded services and increased privacy for those who use the facility.

Eric Knoblock, wellness center coordinator, is looking forward to the expanded space and the potential for new programming. In the coming weeks, a new sauna in each of the men's and women's locker rooms will be in service, while new rooms constructed behind the exercise room will allow for privacy for patients undergoing stress tests, therapeutic massage and physical therapy. At this time, all three of those services have to share one small room in the wellness center.

In addition, Knoblock said a new multi-purpose room will allow for educational programming and fitness-type programming. He envisions the use of virtual reality video games projected from a large screen as a room filled with people work out to programs like Dance Dance Revolution.

"The sky's the limit," Knoblock said. "A lot of the fitness world has been going to interactive (programs)."

While lighting and flooring have yet to be completed in the expanded wellness area, Dykstra said the rooms should be ready to open by early November.

The work on phase one will wrap up just as phase two gets under way. Dykstra said that phase will include transforming the former surgical rooms into a newly expanded emergency room -- making the work area twice as large, expanding the outpatient area, moving the nursery and transforming the OB patient rooms into private rooms with their own showers. A new family room, kitchenette, employee lounge and physician's lounge are also a part of the second phase.


Over the course of the four phases, Dykstra said the entire hospital will get a makeover.

"We figure we have one shot in 40 years to get it right," she said, referring to the 44 years since the hospital first opened. All of the hospital's infrastructure, from heating and cooling to electrical, will be replaced during the project. The work is expected to continue through early 2010.

The third phase will include creation of a new pharmacy and chemotherapy mix room, and renovation of the remainder of the patient rooms. The fourth phase includes remodeling of the south hall.

Gregg Construction of Sibley is the general contractor for the project, and Dykstra said the hospital tried to use as many local sub-contractors as possible for the work.

The project is being funded with approximately $4.5 million in borrowed funds, $2 million in reserves, and a capital campaign project that hopes to raise more than $1 million. Dykstra said the capital campaign, which kicked off Sept. 19, has generated $650,000 thus far.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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