MultiCare Tacoma General opening 100-bed expansion

Staff writerFebruary 3, 2014 

MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital calls its latest 7-story addition its Rainier Pavilion expansion, but the 100-room building might easily have been called the Wright Park wing.

The new wing extending eastward from the hospital's '70s-vintage Rainier Pavilion has strong connections with the iconic city park it overlooks.

Inside the pavilion, the walls are decorated with photographs, mosaics and paintings that evoke the park's century-old trees, its classic statuary,  its placid lake and historic structures.

The windows in many of the airy patient rooms provide an eagle-eye view of park activity, walkers and runners, picnickers, basketball players and children frolicking in the fountains in the summertime.

Bringing the park's history, its sylvan landscape and its connection to Tacoma inside the new hospital building was very purposeful, said Shelly Mullin, president of MultiCare's West Pierce region to evoke a feeling of peace and calm.

The new wing, nearly two years under construction, will be devoted mainly to women's and newborn care, to neonatal intensive care and to the hospital's birthing center.

The wing, which will be fully functioning by early March, will bring its birthing and newborn care facilities up to 21st century standards.

One main difference, said Kathleen Clary, MultiCare's director of capital projects, will be the conversion to all private rooms.

That change will allow new mothers, their newborns, friends and family members to share the joy of new arrivals without disturbing other mothers and their children.

The new building, the second phase of $192-million remodeling and expansion program at the central Tacoma hospital,  will also greatly expand the size of birthing rooms to 450 square feet.  Those new rooms will include  hydrotherapy tubs for birthing mothers, couches convertible to beds for overnighting relatives and reclining chairs for visitors.  The newborns will remain in the rooms where a bank of electronic and utility connections to serve them will be concealed behind wood-paneled doors.

To give the rooms and hallways a warmer feel, the floors in much of the wing are covered with a wood-patterned laminate.

The 116,000-square-foot addition will include two floors (five and six) with 18 large, private inpatient rooms.  The fourth floor will house 18 private mother-baby rooms. The third floor will contain the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unity where newborns under special care will be housed in private rooms where lighting, noise and temperature can be carefully controlled.

In the hospital's old NICU, the babies were housed in large rooms where they were clustered together.  The new, private rooms will be equipped with furniture that will allow relatives to sleep over in the babies' rooms.  A glassed-in waiting room occupies a corner of the building with a panoramic view of the park treetops and Mount Rainier when the clouds clear.

High-risk moms needing special pre-birth care will be housed in private rooms on the wing's second floor.  The wing's first floor is set aside for future expansion.

The ground floor will house the lobby and a large, covered carport for moms and babies being discharged.

Once the new wing is fully occupied, said Clary, work will begin on the third phase of the expansion.  That phase includes remodeling 65 existing women and newborn, NICU and birth center rooms in the older part of the pavilion.  That remodeling is expected to be complete next year. 

The first phase of the expansion, the addition of 24 rooms to the Mary Bridge Pediatric Intensive Care Unite and 24 room to the Mary Bridge medical surgical unit, was opened in May above the hospital's Milgard Pavilion.


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