During the past two years of managing the pandemic, the construction of a new three-story patient wing on the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals’ Lincoln campus provided what one Madonna official called a shot of “hope and excitement.”
This week, employees got the chance to tour the 112,000-square-foot addition, part of a multiyear, $57 million expansion and renovation project that ranks as the largest in the Lincoln campus’ history. Thursday morning, Madonna will hold a ribbon cutting and open house for the community.
Paul Dongilli, Madonna’s president and CEO, said the project, which will allow Madonna to better serve patients and families and create state-of-the-art surroundings for employees, began having an impact even before its anticipated opening.
“This has provided such a bright spot during that bleak period,” he said.
Madonna specializes in care and rehabilitation for patients who have suffered spine and brain injuries as well as those with strokes and other conditions.
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The project, Dongilli said, positions the campus for the future. The new wing includes a new kitchen and cafeteria on the first floor and 59 replacement patient rooms on the upper two floors. The spacious private rooms offer space for modern technology and safety features as well as for loved ones to stay and participate in patient care.
Patients are expected to begin moving in June 1. Already open is a new main entrance and concourse leading to the patient tower.
Around July 1, work will start on the second phase of the project, which will involve remodeling and repurposing 50,000 square feet of space occupied by existing patient rooms.
Daniel Griess, Madonna’s vice president of facility systems and ancillary services, said patients stay on the campus an average of two months. The renovated area will include spaces for recreation, such as the pool, virtual reality games and crafts.
Also included, Dongilli said, will be more space for outpatient activities, a business center where families can work remotely and two transitional living apartments. The apartments will allow family members to stay with patients for a few days for education so they’re prepared to meet patients’ needs when they go home.
Construction of a new conference center, Griess said, is slated to start in early June and wrap up in early October.
“We’re just so proud of this expansion,” he said. “Our staff and our strong research programs have helped us have a reputation of being a premier rehabilitation health system in the United States. Now our facilities are going to better align with that reputation.”
Dongilli said the hospital also is integrating additional green space so patients and families can get outdoors.
“We’ve long recognized the need to deal holistically with people,” he said, “… and access to green space and the environment can make such a difference (in the) outlook of patients who are struggling to understand the reason for their conditions.”
Dongilli said the new facilities will include lessons learned from the pandemic. The patient tower will include several negative-pressure rooms for patients who require isolation. Designers also have incorporated more antimicrobial materials and automatic doors that don’t require a touch to open.
The majority of the financing for the project, slated for final completion in spring 2023, is coming from hospital reserves and operating revenue plus $10 million related to philanthropy. Of the $57 million, more than $40 million will be spent with Lincoln-area contractors.
“That’s something we’re also very proud of,” Griess said, “having roots in Lincoln since 1958.”