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Franklin Memorial operating room expansion moves to next phase


The two new operating rooms at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital in Rocky Mount are twice the size of the old ones.

Molly Hunter

ROCKY MOUNT — Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital recently wrapped up renovations for the first part of a three-phase expansion.

Overall, the expansion is expected to cost $15 million.

“The expanded space … will provide for more services, more types of surgeries to come into our area. For example, we will be offering hand surgery, increased podiatry, increased OB-GYN surgeries, we’ll be increasing the general surgery population,” Carl Cline, vice president and hospital administrator for Franklin Memorial, said.

The goal is to make care more accessible to rural patients in the Franklin County area.

“We will keep people here instead of having to go to Roanoke. … We’ll be increasing more complex types of surgeries that, typically, we send to Roanoke,” Cline said.

Crystal Kiser, Franklin Memorial’s director of surgical services, said Henry County patients will also benefit.

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“We get a lot of patients from the Martinsville area, from the Danville area … so when you’re talking about them having to travel to Roanoke for that procedure, that’s double the distance for them,” Kiser said.

The decisions about which services to add and enhance were informed by a Community Health Assessment, which Carilion performs every three years at each of its hospitals.

“You try to look at what is needed in your community the most,” Kiser said.

The hospital is gradually adding staff to support the expanded services.

The renovation added six pre- and post-op bays for a grand total of 14, as well as support spaces for two new operating rooms (ORs). The new ORs are almost double the size of the two previous ones, which dated back to the 1950s.

“We are extremely excited to be able to work in such large ORs. … The ORs that we were working in were the size of what you need for … basic, minor procedure rooms,” Kiser said.

Kiser said the old ORs were not always able to accommodate all of the personnel and equipment required for various operations. The lack of space sometimes created infection control risks, which will no longer be a problem.

Each of the new ORs also come with a central control system to operate the lights, monitors and cameras from one interface.

Kiser said staff have been happy to get situated in their new spaces.

The hospital began planning for the renovation about three years ago, but work officially began April 2021.

“We moved into the new location July 12,” Kiser said.

The new ORs were first used about a month ago.

The first phase of the renovation is complete, but Cline said the rest of the work is not expected to wrap up until the fall of 2023.

Kiser said the old ORs will be converted into endoscopy procedure rooms.

“What they’re working on now is a new central sterilization area and the support space for the staff, like their break rooms, their locker rooms, that kind of stuff. That’s what they’re working on right now along with the two procedure rooms,” Kiser said. “After they’re completed with those, then they will switch over to working on some other little smaller support spaces — medication rooms, endoscopy reprocessing rooms. … Stuff like that will be finished in phase three of the project.”

Throughout everything, Cline and Kiser recommended the hospital staff members for their flexibility.

“Patient experience scores have stayed in the very high 90’s,” Kiser said.

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