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COLUMBIA - Inpatients at the Truman VA hospital will enjoy some new additions as part of its modernization initiative. 

Thursday the hospital replaced all old beds with 124 new inpatient beds. Truman VA's operational budget funded the $1.1 million project.

"The beds are assembled on site, they're safety checked, they're bio-med checked," Director David Isaacks said. "They have linen and mattresses applied, as well as we will be transitioning all the old beds out in the same day."

Current inpatients were transferred to a new bed immediately.

Modernization of systems is one of five national VA goals identified by Dr. David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Locally, Truman VA continues to implement its facility master plan, which includes updates to infrastructure and equipment.

"And really this is also a foundation for us because we're going to continue to modernize how we deliver health care with an integrated nurse call system that will work with these new beds, as well as a interactive patient education system called the GetWellNetwork that will also integrate with these beds," Isaacks said.

Cheryle Kelly, Truman VA nurse executive, said she is excited about future modernization projects.

"The new modernization will allow us to respond to patients more quickly on the inpatient units and to what their needs are," she said. "We will increase the number of beds that we have, so that will improve access." 

The nurse call system and the GetWellNetwork will begin in November. As part of the project, patients will have interactive touch screens that can be used to order food and that will allow a nurse to respond to the patients' needs in a more timely manner.

"So the patient will have things like in room internet connection, wifi, as well as an on-demand TV as well as the ability to provide real time feedback through interactive touch-screen at any time during their stay here while being an inpatient," Isaacks said.

These touch screens will also be able to provide training and education to patients about post discharge care.

As for the old beds, the hospital will send them back to the vendor and receive credit to help with the cost of the new beds. Isaacks said the vendor will then resell or refurbish the old beds and give them to a lower-income hospital.

Truman VA is also upgrading its inpatient surgical unit, as well as its intensive care unit.

“That's also a patient privacy project that we put in place almost two years in the making, to really have single patient rooms for all patients - as well as single patients bathrooms for every room," Isaacks said.

The ICU's grand opening is October 19.