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First newly renovated unit at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph opens; Project Renewal’s first phase nearly complete

new patient room St. Joseph

Project Renewal, a $50 million renovation of Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph for which construction began early last year, reached a milestone this week: The opening of a 12-bed medical psychiatric unit on the hospital’s seventh floor.

“It may seem like it was a long-time coming, but what we’re seeing take shape is a carefully planned vision for an environment that will meet the needs of today’s families as well as those of generations to come,” says Laurie Labarca, who as hospital president has worked closely with the project’s executive sponsor, Todd Conklin, and project team to direct those efforts.

CLICK HERE for a photo gallery of first-phase renovations at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph.

Later this month, its 18-room Senior Behavioral Health Unit will move from the west side of the hospital’s sixth floor to its new 25-room unit on the east side. 
In May, the medical surgical unit on the west side of the hospital’s seventh floor will move to its newly remodeled 32-room fifth-floor east wing space, which will include four intermediate care beds.

In July, the adolescent unit on Orme will be moved to a renovated nine-room space on the east side of the seventh floor. It will feature a multipurpose dining and activity room as well as therapy and family consultation rooms. Another four rooms, designed to provide behavioral health services to children ages 4 to 11 — a new service for Wichita — will open on the same floor in the fall. 

These openings will complete Project Renewal’s first phase, which also included the consolidation last August of Via Christi’s outpatient behavioral health services on the third floor of the Clifton Medical Building, located across the street from the hospital.

Its second phase will include the remodeling of the west side of the hospital’s sixth and seventh floors, creating two 25-room adult behavioral health units. Anticipated completion for this phase and replacement of the exterior windows — a separate project being done concurrently with Project Renewal — is February 2019.

Project Renewal’s third and final phase is the construction of an approximately 5,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor activity center, which will be a vertical expansion of St. Joseph’s north tower. Preparatory work for this phase will begin in May, for anticipated completion in October 2019.

Another project currently under way, a lower-level Psychiatric Observation Unit, also will enhance care at the hospital. Once open, it will provide a calming environment for up to 16 adult behavioral health patients in which to receive immediate treatment and continued observation.

“This new unit is a vital part of our vision for Behavioral Health — one that provides access to the right level of care at the right time and location,” says Robyn Chadwick, executive leader for Via Christi’s Behavioral Health service line. 

“To date, more than 80 individuals, organizations, businesses and foundations have committed $2.5 million to Project Renewal,” says Monica Coen, who as chief philanthropy officer has led fund-raising for Project Renewal and the Psychiatric Observation Unit. “That leaves us just $200,000 shy of what we need to meet the $300,000 challenge grant from the JE and LE Mabee Foundation.”

Pledges of gifts made over a five-year period count toward meeting this goal, Coen added.


About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.