Stringfellow Memorial celebrates $7.4 million expansion
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
May 09, 2013 | 5269 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pointing out just one improved feature in Stringfellow Memorial Hospital's new $7.4 million expansion, RN Brandi Wheeler takes note of better lighting in one of the new operating rooms. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson.)
Pointing out just one improved feature in Stringfellow Memorial Hospital's new $7.4 million expansion, RN Brandi Wheeler takes note of better lighting in one of the new operating rooms. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson.)
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Brandi Wheeler pulled down an adjustable, newly installed lighting array to eye level above an operating table today at Stringfellow Memorial Hospital. With a couple of clicks, she demonstrated the array's different light settings, all the while barely containing her excitement.

"They are very bright LED lights that don't generate heat," Wheeler said with a smile on her face. "Everything here will just be so much easier."

Wheeler, Stringfellow's director of surgical services, was referring to the hospital's recently completed, approximately $7.4 million expansion and renovation project. The 2,250-square foot expansion features three new operating rooms, 16 new waiting rooms and several new surgery recovery bays and holding areas, all with state-of-the-art equipment to care for patients.

"We're just blessed that we have a company that believes in Stringfellow and helps us grow and meet the needs of the community," Wheeler said. "It's all just so state-of-the-art."

Stringfellow is owned by Florida-based Health Management Associates.

The hospital held an open house ceremony this evening for the project, which took a year to complete. Bryan McCauley, CEO of Stringfellow, said the expanded area will be ready for use by the end of the month.

"We passed our state inspection," McCauley said. "We just have a few minor things to adjust ... all of the equipment and everything is there."

Wheeler said the expanded area is designed to make moving patients from pre-operating rooms to surgery as efficient as possible. Previously, Stringfellow had operating rooms and waiting rooms on different floors.

"Now everything is all inclusive," Wheeler said. "It's all on one floor and you can move around with ease."

Future patients and their family will step onto shiny hardwood floors as they first enter the the new section. A large reception area is there to greet them. While patients are farther inside the hospital, family can watch a large flat-screen television to keep an eye on their family member's progress through surgery and into post-operation.

"Now people don't have to worry or wonder where the patient is," Wheeler said. "It's all so patient- friendly."

Each of the new operating rooms has a large flatscreen television that can display real-time video inside the room, closeups of the surgery under way or even X-rays. Two smaller touchscreens hang above the surgery beds, allowing the surgeons to get better, closeup views inside their patients. All the beds in the operating rooms and the waiting rooms are made of memory foam, preventing painful stress on any part of a patient's body, Wheeler said.

One of the operating rooms is larger than the other two and is set aside for orthopedic surgery. Orthopedists provide surgery on the skeletal system. The extra space is needed to house the larger array of equipment orthopedists require.

"It's really important to have large rooms with space for multiple trays," said Dr. Jeffrey Lawler.

Lawler, an orthopedist who has operated with his partner, Clinton Ray, at Stringfellow for about a year, said the new expansion will be a benefit to him and his patients.

"With the availability to do complex procedures from an orthopedic standpoint, my partner and I will be able to do a lot more," Lawler said. "I think it's a great addition to Stringfellow."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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