Covenant makes nearly all rooms private

URBANA — Today's hospital patients prefer rooming alone, and Presence Covenant Medical Center now has a lot more private rooms to offer.

The Urbana hospital previously had both double-occupancy and private rooms, but it announced Wednesday that it has converted to all private rooms in all but two areas — though a big influx of patients could require some occasional doubling up, Covenant spokeswoman Crystal Senesac said.

"It's hard to say we're all private rooms all the time because there will be those exceptions," she said.

If patients are ever asked to share a room, Senesac said, they'll be moved to private rooms as soon as private rooms become available.

Other exceptions are in the 24-bed behavioral health and 20-bed inpatient rehab areas at Covenant, where there remains a private and double-occupancy room mix. In those two units, having a roommate is sometimes better for the patient and part of their care plans, said Grace McBride, Covenant's vice president of patient care services.

There are now 107 private rooms to offer in the medical-surgical area of Covenant, McBride said, and those rooms are important for many reasons related to safety and patient satisfaction.

Private rooms allow nurses to speak privately to patients and can reduce costs, lower infection rates and limit exposure to other patients conditions, McBride said.

Private rooms also can lower stress levels, noise and just plain allow patients to sleep better, she said.

Fewer patient falls can occur because it's easier to arrange equipment in a private room, providing less for patients to bump into or stumble across getting up in the night, McBride said.

"Some patients may be very sensitive to the roommate and don't want to turn the light on," she said.

Private rooms are also "much preferred" by patients also for the increased comfort level they provide. The patient rooming alone has control over the TV, room temperature and lighting level, McBride said.

To make the conversion to private rooms, the hospital rearranged some services and cross-trained some staff so those employees could cover different areas, Senesac said.

"We had the space but we were not using it," she said.

The extra space was available because Covenant has experienced the same trend hospitals are seeing nationwide, with more patients being treated through outpatient services and fewer needing hospital beds, McBride said.

Covenant took a look at where it was placing patients with different diagnoses and how it could safely and efficiently accommodate those patients in other areas of the hospital, she said.

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