VAN WERT, Ohio (WANE) — After more than two years of construction, Van Wert Health is preparing to move their operation into their new hospital space.

After just under two and a half years of construction, Van Wert Health will begin treating patients in their new space on December 4. At around 94,000 square feet, it is the largest expansion made to the hospital in its history. President and CEO Jim Pope said that for their staff, that added space is one of the biggest benefits of the move.

“Now our smallest [operating room] here in this building is 600 square feet when our largest OR was 400 square feet in the old building,” said Pope. “This whole ground floor has been dedicated to surgery itself, so two new surgery suites along with additional scope space when we do endoscopies.”

The extra space has allowed Van Wert Health to add robotic surgery to their list of offerings, the first of which is scheduled to happen on December 7. According to Pope, this will be more convenient for those who do not wish to make the drive to larger cities like Fort Wayne or Lima and Toledo, Ohio.

Larger patient rooms with seating that converts into a sleep space for visitors will also allow patients and their families to have a more private and comfortable experience while being treated. With the technological upgrades added in the $48 million dollar construction project, those families will also be more connected to hospital staff going forward by adding monitors to the inside that lists the nurses currently on duty and assigned to each room along with medical notes entered by staff.

Monitors on the outside of the rooms communicate special patient needs to hospital staff, such as allergies, special conditions, preferred language, and more. Those working with patients will also be able to communicate the extra need for help in a specific room with just the press of a button. Pope said these updates will save time as care is being administered as well as make it easier to adapt to new technology.

“There’s a whole lot of technology built in this building and it’s built into the building in such a way that over the next five, ten, 15 years as technology increases, we can continue to increase with them,” said Pope.

As for the original hospital, Van Wert Health has plans to turn the 60-year-old space into medical offices for specialty providers to centralize care in the area. Before that happens, they will use the space as an overflow area for patients as Northwest Ohio sees higher hospitalization rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just yesterday we sent out six patients because we had no beds for those patients and so what we’re going to do is continue to keep the older hospital open, at least for a period of time as we work through this,” said Pope. “Then, open up the new beds here which will give us additional capacity to handle those patients as we continue to see COVID rise in this area.”

Throughout November, Van Wert Health gave community tours of the new facility where people could get an up-close look at the finished project, including the details that show off Van Wert and the surrounding area. The hospital had put out a call to photographers to submit photos of the region to use as hallway artwork. Pope said it was their way of physically representing the community that has supported their hospital for decades.

“We have pictures throughout this building and all of those pictures were taken by somebody from the community,” said Pope. “It connects the high-tech side of care with the high-touch side of the community actually being a part of this hospital in the building.”