Shelby Baptist set to open new South Tower

Published 6:36 pm Thursday, November 12, 2009

When patients begin arriving in Shelby Baptist Medical Center’s new South Tower Dec. 1, they may not immediately realize they are in a hospital, according to hospital Chief Operating Officer Scott Williams.

The wood-lined, window-filled corridors in the state-of-the-art 101-bed tower more closely resemble a high-class hotel than a medical facility, Williams said as he examined the new wing about a week before its grand opening.

“We tried to incorporate a lot of water, wood and calm colors to try to make patients feel like they are staying in a nice hotel rather than a hospital,” Williams said. “We wanted to make sure this was a very safe and secure facility, and that people would be greeted by someone as soon as they came in one of the major entrances.”

Construction crews have been building the new 167,712-square-foot, five-story wing for about two years, and are scheduled to have the facility finalized before its grand opening Nov. 18.

When designing the South Tower, hospital officials strived to keep patient areas, staff work areas and public areas as separate as possible, Williams explained. On the third and fourth floors, patient and public areas primarily line the outer edges of the floors, while staff areas are housed in the center.

Because the $92 million new wing was built on top of the hospital’s new emergency department, which opened in 2006, the South Tower’s main lobby is on the second floor, and is connected to a new 370-space parking deck by an enclosed walkway.

The second floor is composed of a new clinical laboratory, a sterilization area, a large admitting and registration area, a chapel and a mechanical space.

The third and fourth floors contain 85 private patient rooms and 16 new intensive care unit beds, and the fifth floor is currently being used for storage, Williams said.

“Eventually, when we have the ability to fully complete this wing, we will add more beds and a sixth floor,” Williams said. “We built this wing while still thinking about the future.”

The entire new wing features wireless Internet connectivity, and all desks and countertops are made of solid stone.

Because of the size of the facility, the new wing features a tube transportation system much like the ones used by drive-thru bank tellers.

“Like if you have a lab sample or something like that, you can program its destination on the system and shoot it straight to wherever you need it to go,” Williams said as he demonstrated the system.

“We also have security cameras everywhere that are monitored 24 hours a day,” he added, noting the hospital included much Christian imagery in the new wing, keeping with the hospital’s faith-based philosophy. “It’s all about the patients, and this new wing lets us do a lot of our patient care behind the scenes.”

The hospital will hold a grand opening ceremony for the South Tower at 2 p.m. Nov. 18, and hospital employees will be leading tours of the facility from 9-10 a.m. Nov. 14 during Alabaster’s Fall Walk. For more information about either event, call the hospital at 620-8100, or visit