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Duke Health expands Raleigh hospital in hopes of creating more nurturing environment for patients, families

<p>Duke Health recently spent $196 million to expand their Raleigh hospital by another 210,000 square feet.</p>

Duke Health recently spent $196 million to expand their Raleigh hospital by another 210,000 square feet.

Duke Health recently spent $196 million to expand their Raleigh hospital by another 210,000 square feet, creating a new South Pavilion Tower.  

The move had been in the works since 2015. In 2017, Duke Health gained approval to begin construction of the South Pavilion Tower, designed to create a nurturing environment for Duke Health patients and their families. 

South Pavilion features 92 private rooms with separate sitting and waiting areas for families on inpatient units that overlook Wake Forest Road.  

“As Wake County became a more desirable place to live and Raleigh was continuing to expand and grow, we felt it was necessary for us to create the South Pavilion to meet this demand,” wrote Leigh Bleecker, interim president of Duke Raleigh Hospital, in an email to The Chronicle. “We planned for a building that would allow us to expand services such as our operating suite and our intensive care unit that went from 15 beds to 28 beds on July 20 to assist the growing number of people coming to Duke for care.” 

Bleecker also wrote that nine new operating rooms and expanded recovery suites will allow the hospital to care for more patients.  

With the goal of patient and family comfort in mind, according to the grand opening video, the South Pavilion also includes a larger café with international cuisine and seating for close to 200 people featuring an outdoor courtyard with a tranquility garden and labyrinth.    

“The power of a labyrinth is amazing,” said Tammy Vinsel, co-chair of the board of directors for the Duke Raleigh Hospital Guild, a group of hospital ambassadors, in the video. “We hope that patients’ families will find this labyrinth a special place to come to, even if just for ten minutes, to open their mind and open their hearts and get some peace.”  

The South Pavilion also includes regional artwork, including paintings by Durham-based artist Maya Freelon, whose work, according to Freelon’s website, was described by the late poet Maya Angelou as “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being.

The Duke Raleigh Arts & Health program allows patients and their loved ones to incorporate the arts into healing by enjoying music by a local harpist two days a week in lobbies and on patients’ floors. 

“Building a hospital is never easy—it is a tedious art,” Bleecker wrote. “Constructing and opening a new hospital building for patients during a global pandemic is not something any of us could have predicted.”  

Several pre-planned construction processes were dramatically impacted and required the Duke Health team to rapidly develop new ways to work together safely and keep the project on schedule. Bleecker emphasized that many manufacturers ceased production and some in-person inspections became virtual—every day brought a new opportunity to do business differently. 

Despite various setbacks, the Duke Health team adjusted to complete the project in time for the first inpatients to arrive July 12.  

“This has been an unbelievable year,” said William Fulkerson, executive vice president for Duke University Health System, in the grand opening video. “The kind of dedication, focus, resiliency, compassion, and caring that I have seen throughout Duke Health including here at Duke Raleigh has been amazing.” 

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