A $33 million renovation of Torrance Memorial Medical Center’s North Tower is underway. The revamp will follow the natural progression of upgrades happening within the Medical Center. Once completed, the North Tower will serve as a hub for the caring of mothers, babies and children of all ages.
Following the opening of the Lundquist Tower in 2014, several of Torrance Memorial’s North Tower units moved over to the new building. Now vacated, except for the first and third floors, the 33-year-old building is primed for a makeover. Once completed, the North Tower will be home to the Mother/Baby Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Pediatric Unit and Medical Surgical Services.
Cosmetically, the tower will be polished with a more modern look, which includes a new window system and a sleek paint job to match the Lundquist Tower.
Inside, the building will be upgraded with new technology. For one, a new nurse call system will allow for integration between the nurse call notification system and the smart phone devices carried by all nurses. In addition, on-demand television systems, complete with interactive capabilities, are being installed, along with a robust security system.
“The renovations support the hospital’s mission to provide a safe, healing environment in which patients can recover, and a comfortable place for families and friends to visit,” says Connie Senner, director of construction at Torrance Memorial.
The project began in January of this year. The entire renovation is expected to be completed by summer 2018. Floor-by-floor, this is how the remodel will shape up:
TRANSITIONAL CARE UNIT
The first floor will remain the Transitional Care Unit (TCU), serving patients on their way to recovery but still under skilled nursing care.
MOTHER BABY UNIT
The new Mother Baby Unit will offer 25 private rooms for mothers and their newborns, with new patient room furniture upholstered in bright fabrics that offer an uplifting ambiance.
When the North Tower was built in the early 1980s, infants were placed in open pod nurseries with many babies in one room. Modern-day best practices dictate keeping babies with their families (known as “rooming in”) to facilitate bonding. The new unit includes only a small nursery with three beds, down from the current 15.
The new rooms are 30% bigger—offering plenty of space for rooming in. This will also allow more space for pediatricians to examine each baby with their parents in attendance so they can ask questions during the exam.
Construction on the Mother/Baby Unit finished in August. Once the state certifies the unit for patient care, the unit’s transition from its current third-floor location will occur.
The third floor will serve as the Pediatric/ Adolescent Unit, consisting of 17 private rooms. A playroom is involved in the design, along with a space for Torrance Loves Children, an alternative childcare option for sick kids of employees and community members. Finishing touches include a cheerful beach theme throughout the unit.
NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
It’s estimated that 10% of newborns require some degree of subspecialty care and nearly 3% require intensive care. Torrance Memorial’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) offers highly specialized care that enables many infants to remain in the South Bay, instead of being transferred to a specialty-care facility. The remodeled fourth floor will bring together a now divided NICU, which is currently spread across two floors in the hospital’s Central Tower.
Evidence reveals a quiet, controlled environment with just the presence of family members and a nurse leads to the best outcomes for health-challenged infants. The unit’s current open bay concept—where babies’ cribs are separated by curtains—will be replaced with 24 private rooms. The rooms will offer reclining seats where family members can sleep and remain in the room 24/7. For twins, there will be adjoining rooms with sliding glass doors. The offices of medical professionals will be located on the same floor to offer improved convenience and access.
MEDICAL SURGICAL UNIT The fifth floor, once renovated, will remain a 32-bed Medical Surgical Unit, serving as overflow from the Lundquist Tower.
“To have it all in one building—Pediatrics, NICU, Mother Baby—it makes sense. It’s easier for staff, physicians and parents to be in the same area,” says Laura Schenasi, executive vice president of the Torrance Memorial Foundation.
Schenasi and her fundraising team are working hard to find a naming donor for the North Patient Tower. Each floor can also be named through donations, which help fund renovations. To learn more about naming and other types of gifts one can make to Torrance Memorial, call 310-517-4703 or visit torrancememorial.org/giving.