Inside room 264 at Carson-Tahoe Hospital, a space made drearier by the overcast skies outside and the tile floors and bland white walls inside, Charge Nurse Beth Boschee explains "the big day" to patient Kristine Rensing.
The nurse explains to Rensing that all the patients checked into the hospital at Fleischmann Way will be moved by ambulance Saturday morning to the new Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center. The trip should only take about 12 minutes. Starting at 8 a.m., 10 ambulances will transport patients down Mountain Street to Winnie Lane, take a left on North Carson Street and then another left on Medical Parkway into the 85-acre medical campus.
"Can you drop me by my house?" Rensing innocently asks.
Boschee says this has been a common request. It's only Thursday and several patients have asked not to be checked out before Saturday. They want to be a part of the history, she said. The hospital has planned Patient Move Day for years. The Saturday move is detailed in a four-inch-thick binder.
"Some have asked if we can stop by and check on their cat or dog, or to say hi to a grandchild," the nurse says. "One patient asked if we could go Christmas shopping."
Boschee will be assisting in the move of 24 patients in the medical/oncology departments. Hospital spokeswoman Cheri Glockner said the move will be at capacity. More than 80 patients in seven departments are expected to be moved from the old hospital to the new 352,000-square-foot medical center.
Carson-Tahoe Hospital has been a place of recovery, birth and death for area residents since 1949. And, as one nurse reflected in the hallway, it will become the "old hospital." Some of the staff feel nostalgic. This is the only Carson City hospital they've ever known. It's as comfortable as a warm glove, familiar in its pattern and its usefulness.
Carson-Tahoe Hospital will be closed for in-patient care. It will become Carson Tahoe Specialty Medical Center in mid-December. The first floor will be used for out-patient services. In the summer it'll open for long-term acute care.
But right now, it's all about Rensing and the other patients like her.
Rensing, who declines to give her exact age, only saying that she's "over 80," checked in Wednesday night with respiratory illness. She sits by the square window, overlooking the parking lot, and catches her coughs in a balled-up tissue. She's snuggled up in a hospital blanket. Her gray hair is pulled back into a pony tail. Rensing smiles often.
"It's an experience," she says about the move. "I've never anticipated this. It's kind of neat. I saw (the regional medical center) being built. It's huge."
Rensing retired from the state and has lived in Carson City for 35 years. She gardens, cooks and likes to listen to Barbra Streisand.
"You're going from the hospital to the hotel," says hospital marketing specialist Jeanne Corbit.
That comparison is accurate. The regional medical center is an $118 million investment in high-tech patient care and a healing environment, hospital officials have said. All 144 patient rooms are private. The old hospital only has six private patient rooms. Rensing's private room has an institutional feel.
On Saturday, her room inside the medical center will have Internet access. A family member can sleep beside her in a day bed. She'll walk on laminate floors and look out a large window overlooking Eagle Valley. Her medical equipment will be stowed behind cabinets.
For months, Carson City residents have seen Enterprise Rent-a-Trucks travel between the two hospitals carrying medical equipment, supplies and documents. On Saturday morning they will see a hoard of ambulances - the last ride of Carson-Tahoe Hospital.
-- Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
• The Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, 1600 Medical Parkway, will open for patients at 8 a.m. Saturday.
• The emergency room at Carson Tahoe Hospital, 775 Fleischmann Way, will remain open until the last patient has been moved to the new medical center.
• The move is expected to take until 2 p.m.
• Expectant mothers who are in active labor before 8 a.m. Saturday must go to Carson-Tahoe Hospital. They will be evaluated and transferred as necessary. Mothers who go into labor after 8 a.m. Saturday must go to the regional medical center.
• Patients needing emergency treatment after 8 a.m. Saturday should go to the medical center emergency department on the west end of the new building.
• All services offered at Carson-Tahoe Hospital will be moved into the new facility along with new service lines, including open-heart surgery and interventional cardiology. The ER will expand to include more bays and six "fast-track" rooms.