University Hospital & Clinics plans to add more beds to its oncology outpatient unit so it can serve more patients who need infusion treatments.

The hospital’s fifth-floor oncology clinic space doubles as an infusion treatment area, which means limited space is available for infusion patients on clinic days, oncology clinical supervisor Jerniece Jacob said.

As part of the renovation plan, the infusion clinic will be relocated to an adjacent fifth-floor wing, known as “5 East,” where 14 beds will be made available for infusion patients. The renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the month. The unit now houses 10 outpatient beds, and typically, seven of those beds are open for infusion patients, Jacob said.

Each month, between 400 and 500 patients visit the oncology unit for either a clinic visit or an infusion treatment. The creation of a separate infusion clinic will help improve the patient’s visit for chemotherapy or other infusion treatments, she said.

“I definitely think when patients come now, they’ll have a sense of being relaxed,” she said. “We want our patients to have a relaxed experience, especially during this time.”

The additional space also will enable family members to stay with a patient during the infusion, adding to a patient’s comfort, Jacob said.

“Now, family members sit in the lobby while their loved one receives an infusion. This way, the family member will be able to come back with the patient for treatment,” she said.

“This is an exciting development for our patients and residents who will be better served by these improvements,” Oncology Director Dr. Windy Dean-Colomb said in a news release. “We continue to enhance our approach to oncology at UHC, and as director of oncology, I’m glad to see things heading in such a positive direction.”

The renovations, estimated at $184,000, are funded by Lafayette General Health, said Daryl Cetnar, Lafayette General Health communications director. The private health system took over management of the public hospital, formerly known as University Medical Center, in June 2013.

As part of the management takeover, the private hospital system has invested in other improvements at the facility and expanded pre-existing services that had been curtailed due to state budget cuts at the public hospital. However, some upgrades that were state-approved and state-funded prior to the private hospital’s takeover also will soon get underway, including a $4 million expansion and renovation of the hospital’s emergency department. The emergency department expansion involves a nearly 4,000-square-foot addition to the existing 1,800-square-foot department, and the creation of private bed space to replace existing curtained patient bay areas.

Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.