KENTFIELD -- Kentfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Hospital will soon undergo a $9 million renovation and upgrade, a project five years in the making that is poised to begin in mid-May or early June, officials announced.

Renovations at the 60-bed hospital include the implementation of electronic medical records, a new nurse call system, expanded pharmacy services, all new medical equipment and rehab space, a new oxygen tank and numerous cosmetic upgrades to patient rooms, said Ann Gors, chief executive officer of the hospital, which is owned by privately held Pennsylvania-based Vibra Healthcare. Patient rooms will get new floors, windows, furniture, cabinets, and lift systems will be mounted in the ceilings.

Ms. Gors said the hospital is awaiting the final permits, which should arrive by May.  Phased construction would begin soon thereafter and is expected to last about 18 months with minimal impact on hospital operations, though some beds may be taken out of operation temporarily, Ms. Gors said.

The hospital, built in 1964, became a designated long-term acute care facility in 1999, a designation under Medicare that stipulates the average length of patient stay is greater than 25 days. The patients are often extremely ill or frail, Ms. Gors said,

"We have a  host of medically complex patients, often right out of the ICU," Ms. Gors said.

With such patients, the planned nurse calling system will be particularly important, she said. It will equip all clinical staff with hand-held, wireless phones. Patients will have speakers placed by their beds, which can be used to contact nurses and physicians. It can also serve as a targeted alarm in getting the right equipment in a much quicker fashion.

"That's pretty state-of-the-art," Ms. Gors said. "We'll be able to monitor at a much higher level and design." The mobile device system, Ms. Gors added, will "reduce alarm fatigue -- it will get information to the right person at the right time."

In a statement, hospital chief of staff Dr. Kip Roebken said, "This expanded capability will allow our physicians to closely monitor patients newly admitted to the hospital or those patients at highest risk for a change of condition."

The upgrade is being financed through the hospital's parent company, Vibra Healtcare, and Ms. Gors said the Kentfield facility was in a good position to begin construction now.

"The good news is that we've been planning this for five years, so we've had a lot of time to think about it," she said. "I think we're in a good spot."

The last significant renovation at the facility was at least 20 years ago, Ms. Gors said. The hospital employs a staff of about 350 and has  33 physicians, many of whom are part of the Marin Hospital Group, which  supplies doctors to hospitals throughout Marin and Sonoma counties. Some of the physicians are independent.

The general contractor on the project is Chamblin-Landes Construction, based in Paso Robles. The architect is Pasadena-based Puchlick Designs. 

In 2010, the Kentfield hospital had 528 patients admitted for a total of 17,488 patient days.