My first look at our new hospital

Published 6:00 am Sunday, July 2, 2017

By Joanne Wilkinson

The new Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, which will open its doors on Nov. 27 at 5 a.m., is nothing short of impressive.

I have been a member of the Patient Advisory Council for a number of years, and our group was fortunate to be given a tour of the almost completed hospital. Mark Ottens, the Chief Nursing Officer, along with Peyton Warrington, Assistant Administrator, conducted the tour and their enthusiasm for every aspect of the new hospital was contagious. An enormous amount of thought and planning has been put into making sure the hospital will be as perfect as possible.

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Every aspect of the new hospital has been designed from the point of view of making the patient, and the patient’s family comfortable. The logical positioning of the various departments has all been done to make sure patients have an easy time navigating the hospital.

Inviting lobby and rooms

When patients enter the stunning light filled lobby, they will be greeted with a soaring ceiling and an elegant stairway. There will be a Starbucks Coffee, a cafeteria, an expanded gift shop and a wrap-around reception desk to greet people. The outpatient departments will be easy to reach from the lobby entrance. In the winter, under-floor heating will ensure that patients and visitors are always comfortable. A chapel located just off the lobby will contain a stained glass window donated from the Self Chapel, which was in the old Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis.  Across from the same chapel will be placed on the exterior of the hospital.

The color scheme of the hospital is very inviting with various shades of blue and wood tones throughout the hospital. If anyone is expecting to have a baby, the labor and delivery suite is like a five-star hotel. Patients will feel completely at home with the soft look of the rooms and the beautiful wallpaper.  In the actual delivery room, all the equipment is recessed into cabinets, so the room looks like a very elegant bedroom. Babies are kept with their mothers, but if the mother needs a break, there is a well baby nursery. The nursery windows incorporate special blinds that can be closed if necessary. Babies in the nursery can be viewed through the windows, and there is even a low ledge for young children to stand on so that they can see their new sibling.

All of the rooms in the hospital are large private rooms with the same soothing colors used in the rest of the hospital. There is a separate sink area set into a little alcove for doctors and nurses to wash their hands. The airflow system is very quiet, the bathrooms are spacious, and there will be a very comfortable sleeping couch in case a member of the family needs to stay in the room with the patient.

ER, surgery, equipment

The emergency room will go from 22 beds in the old hospital to 38 beds in the new one. The radiology department has been placed close to the emergency room department to make that service very accessible if it is needed.

The cardio lab will have a new state of the art equipment including a Siemens ARTIS Pheno. This is the latest robotic angiography system that allows for minimally invasive procedures in cardiac and vascular surgery cases. It is currently being made in Germany, and Baptist will be the first hospital in the country to have this equipment.

Absolutely everything in the hospital will be new from the patient’s beds to the computers, to the CT scanners and other machinery that is needed in a hospital. The hospital is also recruiting new staff to expand its range of services.

If you need surgery, you are going to be well looked after. Before entering the surgical theater you will be asked what your favorite music is. That music will then be playing in your ears as you enter the dimly lit and soothing area. You will be put to sleep, and only then will the bright lights be put on and the surgery will proceed. The reason for this approach is that studies have found that if a patient is less stressed before an operation, recovery time is less. This is just one example of how the hospital staff has tried to think of everything to make patients more comfortable.

Between September and the opening in November more than 1,000 staff need to go through training to learn about all the various aspects of the new building including new phone systems, computers, and equipment.

There are countless details that have to be attended to in the transition from the old hospital to the new hospital. For the rest of us, we just need to consider ourselves fortunate that this outstanding state of the art hospital will be available to us should we need its services.

Joanne Wilkinson is a retired teacher and Oxford resident. You can reach her at