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Arts and Entertainment

New Patient Tower at St. John's Opens

After years of planning and construction, St. John's Hospital in Springfield will host an Open House celebration for its new Patient Tower tomorrow (Saturday). KSMU's Megan Keathley reports.

April sunlight sparkles off the green-and-gold Sisters of Mercy cross, set in stained glass and sitting like a jewel atop the new Patient Tower at St. John's Hospital. The facility has been under construction since 2005, and will welcome the public for an Open House celebration this weekend.

Cora Scott, spokesperson for St. John's, gave me a sneak-peak tour of the new addition, a term that she says hardly does it justice.

To start our tour, Cora Scott leads me behind a partition into a cavernous atrium filled with sunlight. The atmosphere is elegant and peaceful. It's easy to forget you're in a hospital.

In the center of the lobby is a bronze statue of the woman who founded the order of the Sisters of Mercy over one-and-seventy years ago. Catherine McCauly's efforts resulted in what is now St. John's worldwide healthcare.

Leaving the atrium, we take an elevator upstairs to the new patient care floors. The third floor post-surgical unit and the fifth-floor women's services wing feature high-tech nursing stations. Private patient rooms include computers, flat-panel television screens, and large beds outfitted with the latest medical technology concealed in hardwood finishing.

Gone are the hospital stereotypes of jumbled medical files and 2-person rooms with a window facing a brick wall. Cora Scott points out that there is a computer for every nurse, and all windows either look out to south Springfield, or down into manicured courtyards.

Scott says the tower was funded in large part by area donors. Back in the atrium, she introduces me to Bob Norton, director of health system facilities at St. John's. Norton and Scott agree that a wide range of people, including technicians, local artists, and staff and patients from St. John's, deserve credit for the successful completion of the tower. They say this weekend will be an opportunity for them to present their masterwork to the community.

The new St. John's Patient Tower will open to the public tomorrow at 9 A.M.