FORT RILEY, Kan. -- "We cannot honor you enough, but we can at least provide first-class medical facilities to you for your service," said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Irwin Army Community Hospital Oct. 12 at Fort Riley.

Along with Brownback, Col. John Melton, IACH commander; Brig. Gen. William Turner, deputy commanding general, 1st Infantry Division; Maj. Gen. Thomas Tempel, commander of Regional Health Command-Central; U.S Sen. Pat Roberts; U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran; and Dr. John Fahey, Irwin family biographer, spoke at the ceremony about the advancements in the new facility and celebration of it opening.

"Our team is well aware of the great gift we are receiving today from the American people," Melton said. "This new hospital represents the unwavering commitment of our nation and military for those who serve and the families who share in that service."

The IACH staff serves about 50,000 beneficiaries, which includes active-duty Soldiers, family members and retirees, according to the fact sheet provided by IACH staff. On an average day, 1,594 clinical patients are seen, 11 surgical cases are handled and three babies are delivered.

Compared to the old hospital, the new one has about 47 percent more space. It is 550,669 square feet, while the old hospital is 380,000 square feet. The new facility also has an increase in the beds available, such as 19 beds in the emergency room as compared to 12 in the old facility and 13 beds in the labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum unit compared to eight in the legacy hospital, the IACH fact sheet explains.
The labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum unit is a change from the previous facility.

This unit allows for the labor, delivery and postpartum care of an infant in the room, as well as having two surgical rooms within the unit, so a patient needing emergency surgery during delivery would not need to be transported far.

"The safety and quality of care is driven by the healthcare team," Melton said. "What the new facility provides to us is it's an enabler for that. For example, we now have what is called labor, delivery, Recovery (and) postpartum rooms, so now when our beneficiaries, when they're going to deliver a baby, they don't have to leave the room. We can deliver the baby, take care of the baby and the mother and the family can stay in the same room."

The two-wing, five story building also features a new unit -- inpatient behavioral health and psychiatric care. With this new unit, beneficiaries are able to receive care without traveling away from Fort Riley. The unit also has an outdoor patio available to patients surrounded by a garden of flowers and foliage.

"One of (our) new capabilities we have in the new hospital is the inpatient behavioral health and psychiatric unit," Melton said. "We now have ten beds."

Facing the outpatient clinics is the atrium. The atrium is a glass wall that lets in natural light, provides a view of the gardens outside and provides passive solar heat in cooler months according the IACH fact sheet.

The atrium, gardens and the rooms having a view of the outdoors are a part of the healing process, said Jorge Gomez, IACH public affairs officer. The scenic views of the rooms are one part of the evidence-based design of the hospital.

"When you have an opportunity to visit the facility, it's evidence based design," Melton said. "It's beautiful, it changes the experience of care … Evidence based design is, basically, over time we have looked at how we (use) functional areas, functional processes and based on that information, what works best. It's process improvement. It's not a gut check, it's based on evidence, deliberate analysis and then coming up to a feasible solution."

Karlie Parinas, an employee of Child, Youth and School Services and wife of Sgt. Jess Parinas, 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, was selected to cut the ribbon along with her husband and three daughters.

"It's beautiful … the structure, the lighting, it's very open and welcoming," Karlie said of the new hospital. "The staff seem very friendly and knowledgeable."
Jesse agreed with his wife about the new facility, adding this was a long time coming for the Fort Riley community.

"This means a lot to Fort Riley," Jesse said. "I know they've (the Fort Riley community) been waiting for it to open since we got here in 2014."

Melton said none of this would have been possible without the assistance of Fort Riley and IACH community partners, Kansas and the American people, but through them, readiness has been increased at Fort Riley.

"With this new hospital, together with our partners, we will continue to create opportunities that enhance the operational readiness of our units and enabled the resiliency of our community," he said.