Patients transferred to University Hospital's new Sky Tower

Process described as 'huge undertaking'

Mapped out minute by minute, patients were transferred Monday morning from University Hospital's old wing into its new Sky Tower.

One by one, patients were wheeled out of University Hospital's old wing into its new wing, University Sky Tower, on Monday.

The process was planned down to the minute by minute and completed with surgical precision by hospital staff and volunteers.

"This is a major undertaking," said University Health System spokeswoman Leni Kirkman.

Doctors and nurses conducted practice drills and prepared for the worst. The biggest concern was transferring patients in the Intensive Care Unit who were unable to breathe unassisted.

"When you move them over, you have to unplug those machines, and so [doctors] have to physically and manually, what they call, bag those patients to breathe for them," said Kirkman.

A help center and a command center were set up to address any issues with the move, all the way down to phones that would not work or doors that would not open. Equipment was also transferred, moved by employees and volunteers.

The move began at 6 a.m. Monday and ran ahead of schedule.

"It's really gone better that we could have ever possibly expected," said Kirkman.

The new Sky Tower boasts much larger rooms with updated technology.

"We have single private rooms for every patient," said Dr. Bryan Alsip. "There's certainly a lot more space now."

The new wing is close to twice the size of the older portion. As of Monday afternoon, physicians in the Sky Tower had already completed the building's first operation and seen its first Emergency Room patient.

The switchover is expected to be completed by Monday evening.

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