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Updating facilities to accommodate growth

The renovation and expansion of the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC Intensive Care Unit (ICU) increased the size of the patient rooms and updated to state-of-the-art technology. Photo by Michael Romeo.
The renovation and expansion of the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC Intensive Care Unit (ICU) increased the size of the patient rooms and updated to state-of-the-art technology. Photo by Michael Romeo.

In Fiscal Year 2019, The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center served just under 80,000 unique patients, including more than 10,000 female Veterans.

Charleston VAMC had 4,541 inpatient stays and completed over one million outpatient visits for the first time in their VA’s history.  To best accommodate their growing patient population, they continue to expand their facilities and complete updates to existing areas. This past fiscal year they had over $197M approved in their construction program with 40 projects underway.

The medical center broke ground on two new major outpatient clinics leases in May 2019, one in North Charleston and one in Myrtle Beach. Both projects are on track for completion of construction in November 2020, with activations planned for late spring/early summer 2021.

“These clinics will add much needed space for our outpatient services in the communities we serve—enhancing services offered and convenience for our Veterans,” said Acting Medical Center Director Ronnie Smith.

There are several other major projects underway at Charleston VAMC including:

  • A pharmacy renovation
  • Expansion of Sterile Processing Unit and Distribution
  • A design/build contract awarded for Compensation & Pension clinic at Joint Base Charleston
  • Parking:
    • A second parking deck has been approved and is expected to be six floors. The deck will be located behind the current parking deck.
    • Additional floors are still expected to be added to the existing deck, but this will occur after the second deck is built to minimize the impact to current parking availability.

“We know that parking is a concern for our Veterans and their visitors,” said Smith. “We have been working diligently to expand parking options for all those who come to our VA. Ease of parking is the first part of a Veteran’s experience on our campus and we want to ensure we start that experience off right.”

This past weekend Charleston VAMC opened their fully expanded Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The ICU now has a total of 21 beds—19 beds and two step-down bays—an addition of five total beds from the previous unit of 16. The renovated space includes expanded lab areas and updated technology and finishes. The remodel doubled the footprint of the unit, allowing each room to have a private restroom, created necessary staff work rooms, a conference room, consultation room, three nurses stations and chart alcoves that allow staff to be closer to their patients for monitoring. The ICU rooms are now larger, giving families a more comfortable space to spend time with their loved ones.  

“The ICU houses the sickest and most vulnerable Veterans, some fighting for their lives, others at the end of their lives,” said ICU Nurse Manager Shaniqua Fludd. “These Veterans deserve to have the most advanced technology and resources that will get them to a speedy recovery and healing process, which will allow them to go home with their loved ones.”

The medical center and its engineering team continue to bid for additional funds to provide the best possible facilities for the Veterans they serve.

“With more space, increased technology and the dedication of our staff—I’m certain we will continue our track record of excellence in health care because our Veterans deserve nothing less,” said Smith.

To view a video tour of the new ICU, click here.  

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