LOUISVILLE, Ky. — UofL Health is breaking ground on a $144 million tower expansion in downtown Louisville. The hospital says it will increase operating capacity and update to all private beds throughout the hospital.
A space is sitting outside of UofL Health’s downtown hospital campus, but in a couple of years it will mean expanded health care and added jobs for the hospital. Erin Riebel serves as the emergency department nursing director at UofL Health, was one of many who attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the west tower.
“I think the organization has taken the right step for our patients and our community,” said Riebel.
Riebel believes the current way the emergency room is operating is not sustainable for the standard of health care she and her team want to provide. UofL Health says the expansion is a part of an overall commitment to increase access to care in the region for federally, medically underserved areas.
“Patients are coming in sicker and they’re coming in longer, so this tower is going to be huge. Currently, we have patients waiting in our emergency department for sometimes days to get a room upstairs,” said Riebel.
Riebel says the tower expansion will take strain off of emergency room nurses like herself. When finished, the expansion will include 360 beds, all in a private room, 20 operating rooms and a new 24 bed observation unit.
“We can function somewhat normally on our busy days. We’ll still be busy, but just in a different way. The patients who are boarding in the hospital are just not getting that special touch they get on the in-patient side,” said Riebel.
The hospital’s expansion will also create 325 new jobs, including nurses, clinical and non-clinical support. Kim Wilson, the director of critical care services at the hospital, has served as a nurse for nearly 20 years, says it’s needed after experiencing a pandemic as a health care professional.
“Unless you’re really in it [health care profession] I don’t, you really can understand how hard it is and then the shorter staffing ratios made it even harder. Our level of care still stayed high. We still came every day and did what we needed to do for our patients,” said Wilson.
Wilson, Riebel and many other nurses are looking forward to reducing wait times and improving health care standards for patients. The expansion will include seven floors and be completed in 2024.