Privatizing hospital rooms

With the new Cornerstone South Tower addition wrapping up this coming fall, Crittenton Hospital Medical Center will offer more private rooms to its patients.

Photos courtesy of Barton Malow Rewold, LLC.

Photos courtesy of Barton Malow/Rewold, LLC.

The hospital will continue to hold its 290 licensed patient beds, but instead of housing predominantly semi-private rooms, there will be more space for all-private accommodations.

Semi-private rooms contain two patients—an A- and B-bed, divided by a curtain—whereas all-private rooms house one patient and offer more space for family members to stay overnight.

The older portion of the hospital will make the shift to private rooms, cutting out curtain dividers and the extra space in the tower allows this expansion.

Photos courtesy of Barton Malow Rewold, LLC.

Photos courtesy of Barton Malow/Rewold, LLC.

On a busy day, Crittenton staff will treat 240 patients,  said Monte Oberlee, an administrative team member who is responsible for Crittenton facilities.

Bottom line, “When we’re done with this addition, we would be able to accommodate 240 private-room patients,” he said.

Should they need more than 240 rooms, some can shift to the former semi-private, dual-patient quarters.

And the biggest change in thinking for patients is that a private-room stay is now covered by insurance, Oberlee said.

“Just about everywhere I go, somebody raises that question about ‘well, my insurance won’t pay for this’ and that just isn’t the case anymore,” he said.

Hospitals and healthcare providers get reimbursed by what’s called a Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) that estimates patient cost based on treatment and not by accommodations, Oberlee said.

“Your insurance payment that the hospital receives will be based on your diagnosis, not on how you stay,” he said. “It won’t cost you more than it would cost you in a semi-private, it’s the same.”

Oberlee loves telling people wherever he goes that these private rooms will be available to everyone.

All-private rooms are important for patient life because they improve clinical outcomes, infection control and make more room for visiting family members to spend the night.

But perhaps the biggest draw for a private room is greater sense of confidentiality, said Stephanie Vallie, MSN, RN, a special instructor of nursing at Oakland University.

Photos courtesy of Barton Malow/Rewold, LLC.

Photos courtesy of Barton Malow/Rewold, LLC.

“Sometimes it’s very difficult to keep things confidential when you have someone in the neighboring bed,” she said, “especially if they’re coherent—they’re hearing what’s going on, whether they’re trying to or not.”

Creating more space for healthcare workers ups their efficiency, too, both Oberlee and Vallie agree.

“You (might) have equipment issues or a number of devices that need to be present in the room,” Vallie said, “you’re tripping over cables or an IV pump…space is an issue.”

But through her experience working with patients, there are still drawbacks to privatizing patient rooms—namely in the healing power of socialization.

“Sometimes (patients) will meet someone (in a semi-private room) that they have a lot in common and it will help get them through the treatment or the stay in the hospital,” Vallie said, “so there are some things that we’re going to be missing, too.”

For now, Oberlee says he doesn’t foresee any further expansions at Crittenton and the team is on-schedule to wrap up in October.

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About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at

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