Patients in UTMB's John Sealy Hospital are moving into modern new rooms, and they like what they see.

“The patients really like the rooms and the added space reduces clutter and improves access in the room,” said Maureen Brami, who directs nursing care in the surgery unit.
Work began in June 2010 to modernize four wings in the hospital, and provide 54 remodeled rooms. The final wing, dedicated to the new Comprehensive Maternity Center, will be completed and ready for patients on Feb. 16.
There are double-door entries, hardwood floors, a refrigerator, flat panel TV, and sofa bed for visitors. The average room is 300 square feet compared to the old 128 square-foot rooms. Room design stresses a need to be versatile for specialized medical needs, and to help health care professionals do their work.
The new patient experience at John Sealy is part of a move to family-centered hospital rooms. Modern health care thinking is that patients recover better with friends and family nearby. To cast a homelike atmosphere, the rooms are twice as big as before and have amenities to promote comfort and security.
Health care professionals expect many benefits from a modern, upbeat atmosphere.
“The environment says everything to people. People who see a modern, attractive environment tend to behave differently, more positively and with more care. The environment also allows us to set a higher level of professional standards,” said Donna Graves, director of patient care services.
John Sealy Hospital is the hub of inpatient care at UTMB. The hospital as an institution dates back to 1890. The new rooms are located in its 12-story towers built in 1978.
Hospital administrators closed 104 of the 394 patient beds available in the John Sealy Hospital to make way for the 54 new rooms. UTMB will regain the lost capacity in 2016 with completion of the new 250-room Jennie Sealy Hospital nearby. The old Jennie Sealy Hospital, which has not been used as a hospital for several years, is scheduled to be torn down in March to make way for the new hospital.
Balancing medical needs with building schedules was tricky. Construction project teams planned work in advance to help the hospital better manage its patient operations, said Kim McKay, assistant vice president in Business Operations and Facilities. She said work was scheduled around patient sleep schedules and around patient visits to the nearby Cardiac Catheterization unit to minimize disruption.
The John Sealy project has attracted interest from the construction industry. The trade journal Construction Today said in an article in November that the project addresses “one of the biggest challenges facing any health care organization as it struggles to balance the resources available to it with the need to modernize its operations to provide the most effective care.”
The modernization will cost $36 million and include other renovations in the building. The related work is expected to be finished in October.
In John Sealy’s new surgery unit, one of the four modernized units, there are 16 rooms where there once were 32 beds. Three other units also have new rooms: Orthopedics-Trauma, the Blocker Burn Unit, and Comprehensive Maternity Center, formerly called Labor and Delivery. More room modernization is planned after the new Jennie Sealy Hospital opens.