Charge nurse Christina Crank, below, explains the features in the emergency room area of new King’s Daughters’ Hospital during the open house on Sunday. The new ER is much larger than the one in the downtown hospital. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/
Charge nurse Christina Crank, below, explains the features in the emergency room area of new King’s Daughters’ Hospital during the open house on Sunday. The new ER is much larger than the one in the downtown hospital. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/
Nearly 2,500 people attended a community open house Sunday as King's Daughters' Health begins another chapter in its 114-year history.

The new $100 million hospital building opened to the public for the first time with tours and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Hospital employees lined the hallways to greet visitors and explain the new features that will be available at the hospital once the facility opens to its first patients on Saturday.

Most visitors were curious to see what the inside of the hospital on State Road 62 looked like after watching the building rise from the ground after construction began in 2010. Some people wanted to learn about the additional procedures that will be available with the new state-of-the-art technology and others wanted to learn where a doctor's office would be located in the adjacent medical office building.

Valerie and Eric Young of Madison were especially interested to see the new nursery and delivery suites on the second floor.

Valerie Young's due date is in two weeks, and the soon-to-be parents are excited to utilize the new suites and nursery at the hilltop hospital.

Jefferson County resident Diedre Cart toured the hospital before taking a break in the fourth-floor guest seating area to enjoy a view of the surrounding landscape on the clear, sunny Sunday.

"It's awesome," Cart said of the building. "Just walking in this place, I feel like I'm going to be better taken care of."

Lisa Brady, a King's Daughters' Health nurse who works in the emergency room, said several departments will provide more services - as well as improved patient comfort - in the new building.

"We're so much bigger (with the new emergency services), but we're prepared," Brady said.

In preparation for the larger facilities, the hospital hired and trained more nurses to be able to support the 18-bed emergency room. The downtown hospital has 10 rooms. At the new hospital, emergency services will be able to expand to 29 rooms.

 "People were always waiting and in the hallway," Brady said of the downtown hospital. "We're not going to have that anymore."

A resident of downtown Madison, Brady heard the concerns of those who were unhappy with the hospital's move to the hilltop when the idea was proposed. Those concerns didn't seem to be evident during the open house, she said.

"All we've heard are positives," she said. "Everyone's excited."

Even though she's excited about the new building, the move will be a little emotional for her. Brady, who has been employed with King's Daughters' Health for seven years, plans to work in the Emergency Room at the downtown building on Saturday before shutting the doors one last time.

"I'll be a little tearful," she said. "That's the only place I've worked as a nurse."

Speakers during the ribbon-cutting ceremony highlighted the historical ties of the downtown King's Daughters' Health building with the community.

The first hospital in Madison opened in 1899 after 12 women organized the Bethany Circle in 1896, King's Daughters' Health President and CEO Roger Allman said during the ceremony. Thanks to the generosity of Drusilla Cravens, a home opened its doors as a hospital dedicated to serving others by providing medical care to the community.

Allman said the hospital staff and officials began to identify changes needed for the hospital about five to six years ago. The surgery suites in the downtown hospital were too small and technology needed to be updated, he said, but the hospital didn't have room to grow.

"We just could not meet those needs in the current facility," he said.

King's Daughters' Health officials broke ground on a new facility in November 2010.

"It has been a long road to get to this point," Allman said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Throughout the years, the primary focus has always been patient care, Allman said, and patient care will remain the hospital's main goal with the opening of the new building.

This new facility, which came in ahead of schedule and under budget, sits on 96 acres and will allow King's Daughters' Health room to expand when new healthcare advances become available.

Reenie Getz, chairwoman of the hospital board, recognized that the original idea of those 12 founding members of the Bethany Circle will continue to live on through this new facility.

"Today King's Daughters' Health opens this new facility to continue that dream," Getz said.

The Emergency Room opens to the first patients at 7 a.m. on Saturday. Officials plan to begin transporting patients from the downtown hospital to the new facilities Saturday morning as well. The entire transition should take just a few hours to complete.