Vt. Hospital Seeks Change To All Single Rooms

Burlington (AP) — Fletcher Allen Health Care is beginning a process that could end up doing away with most of the shared patient rooms.

The planning director at the hospital, Vermont’s largest, said yesterday that officials are planning to ask state health care regulators for permission to begin a process that could result in the construction of 48 new patient rooms in a new two-story building, Preliminary cost estimates put the project cost at about $85 million.

The industry standard now is to move away from the long-accepted practice at many hospitals of having patients share rooms and the expansion being discussed now would be a first step in what could be a long process.

“We have a goal if we can to move toward about a 90-percent single bed occupancy, if possible,” said Fletcher Allen Planning Director Dave Keelty. “This project may bring us to that goal, but we’re not sure of that. That’s part of the work that we need to do.”

There are many reasons for the move to single rooms, including privacy concerns, infection control, visitors and the equipment used now in many hospital rooms, Keelty said

The hospital is planning to submit its application for a certificate of need for the planning phase of the project within the next few weeks.

“We probably wouldn’t start the actual planning until late summer at the earliest, most likely in the fall. We anticipate it may take upward of six months, eight months, potentially to a year to basically go through these options and begin the process of filing a CON for a real project,” Keelty said.

Keelty emphasized the details of the project could change during the planning process.