FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital broke ground recently on an extensive renovation project that will increase the hospital's ability to offer more advanced surgical capabilities and services such as total hip, knee and shoulder joint replacements.

The 2-year project modernizes and increases the size of its 3-room Operating Room suite, shifts Endoscopy care to its own specialized surgical area, and increases its OR recovery capacity from six to 10 bays.

The 5-phase project was designed specifically to avoid disrupting current services offered by GLWACH.

"We don't expect patients to notice any impact on patient care throughout the duration of the project," said Lt. Col. Robert G. Fowers, GLWACH's Surgical Division chief. "Patients will probably never notice that our surgical service areas are undergoing such significant improvement except for the different areas that will be sealed off for construction throughout the various phases of renovation."

Among the many safety aspects of performing construction within a hospital, work areas are equipped with "the ball in the wall" to visually show the negative pressure maintained in sealed work areas. As air is sucked out of these construction areas and filtered, an orange ball rolls in or out of view inside a clear domed portion of each room's temporary ventilation airway, based on positive or negative pressure in that sealed area.

"When we begin the OR suite renovations during phase III and we go from three OR rooms to two, we don't expect any significant impact to services offered since this is scheduled to occur after our Endoscopy services shift from being performed in our OR suite to its new location," Fowers said.

Slated for completion in late 2018, the project will provide surgeons with a larger, modern three-room OR suite, a dedicated Endoscopy suite, and newly installed state-of-the-art surgical technology to facilitate the added advanced patient services.

(Editor's note: John Brooks is the marketing and public affairs officer at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital)