Though it’s part of a huge health-care chain, Baptist Health Lexington, formerly Central Baptist Hospital, isn’t interested so much in getting bigger as it is in getting better. That’s the mission behind a $230 million expansion, which began in the fall of 2010 on the Nicholasville Road campus and is anticipated to be completed late in 2015.
“We’ve always felt that people who come to Lexington are fortunate to have a variety of health-care options. It’s a town with talented physicians and employees,” said Ruth Ann Childers, hospital spokeswoman. “But we feel Baptist Health is the hospital of choice, and we want to continue to treat patients like family. We don’t do anything without our aim being to take better care of our patients.”
A recent tour of the expansion project revealed that vision in numerous ways.
Under construction is a seven-story, 200-bed hospital tower that will have 44 beds dedicated to medical/surgical patients; 40 for intensive care (which is an increase of 10); 22 for gynecology; 20 for antepartum (before labor/delivery); 42 for postpartum; and 32 neonatal intensive-care beds.
It doesn’t mean more beds overall for the hospital, which now has 383 — just more modern spaces, and all of them designed for individual patients.
“Everyone wants a private room when they don’t feel well,” Childers said.
The project also includes a redesigned hospital entrance, which is meant as a relief to patients and visitors who’ve endured traffic backups as they’ve pulled onto hospital property. This entrance should make it easier for those arriving for surgery, heart and outpatient procedures and other doctors’ appointments. A fourth parking garage, this one underground, is being added. Patients being discharged from the new bed tower will enjoy the privacy and dignity of their own elevators and pickup area.
The new spaces will include plenty of windows and natural light as well as broad walking lanes for stretching one’s legs.
“It’s important to the patient experience. People’s friends and family visit them in the hospital, and we want the patient’s recuperation period to be as pleasant as possible,” said Childers, who noted that many patients travel great distances across the state to the hospital.
One important part of the project has already been completed — modern food service.
“That was one of our greatest needs,” said Childers. “The old cafeteria was in the original structure, built in 1954. It was on a lower level with few windows. The food was good [provided then and now by Morrison’s Cafeteria], but the setting wasn’t as pleasant or large as we’d like.”
A look inside the construction under way at Baptist Health Lexington.
Some of the food options at Cafe Central.
What’s been renamed Café Central is not what you traditionally think of when envisioning a hospital cafeteria. It’s huge — 14,000 square feet of pleasant serving and seating space with an attractive outdoor patio. The two areas together seat 300. Upstairs is an equal amount of space for cooking and food preparation by some of the 89 food-service employees. An elevator brings food down to hungry diners.
The food is freshly prepared. Diners enjoy the choice of five fresh salads daily and made-to-order sandwiches. There’s a special grill section with different entrees each day and a pizza counter.
“Today we have Cajun tilapia with red beans and rice, one of our more popular items. We actually cook the fish to order. This item has about 450 calories,” said Rand Cimino, director of food nutrition services. Healthy choices and calorie counts are a priority, Cimino said.
The food is so good, Childers remarked, that neighborhood residents with no particular hospital business walk over to eat a meal.
The café also has an up-to-date patient board that helps diners keep track of family or friends receiving care. Look up the patient’s code number on the screen and it will tell you where they are in their day, whether in pre-op, surgery or recovery.
Café Central is open 23 hours a day, with one hour closed to transition between breakfast and lunch.
“You can see why we wanted to do this first, because it does impact so many people — patients, staff and the public,” Childers said. The newly completed, high-quality cafe could possibly help “sell” and excite the public about the rest of the expansion project.
Baptist Health Lexington feels the expansion positions the hospital exactly where it wants to be in the marketplace. “We feel that with private rooms and the new and existing high-quality facilities, we are positioned to take the best care of patients,” Childers said.
Baptist Health is based in Louisville, Ky. and owns acute-care hospitals across the state in Lexington, Louisville, Corbin, La Grange, Madisonville, Paducah and Richmond, and a long-term, acute-care hospital in Corbin. In addition, the system manages hospitals in Elizabethtown and Russell Springs.