SALEM ? Over the next 18 months, a series of extensive renovations ? totaling nearly $35 million ? will dramatically improve the overall patient experience at Salem Hospital.The news was announced last week by North Shore Medical Center (NSMC), which oversees Salem Hospital, North Shore Children’s Hospital, Union Hospital in Lynn and several other health care facilities.The renovations include a new intensive-care unit, private patient rooms, inpatient pediatric rooms, expanded radiology department, family waiting areas and wireless Internet service for patients during recovery, according to NSMC spokesman Jean Graham.”These renovations will provide patients with more privacy and space and bring the quality of our facilities in line with the outstanding clinical care we provide,” said Robert Norton, NSMC president and chief executive officer.Coordinating with the expected opening of the new ambulatory care center in Danvers, being developed jointly by NSMC and Massachusetts General Hospital, the hospital renovations are expected to be completed by January 2009.Graham said NSMC plans to replace its current 16-bed intensive care unit, built in 1972, with a new 20-bed unit. The latter has been designed with spacious, family-friendly waiting and treatment areas, modern features, and natural lighting, all of which will enhance both the quality of care and overall ambiance of the unit. Additionally, larger rooms will be better able to accommodate today’s healthcare technology and equipment, she said.The design reflects NSMC’s response to a growing patient preference for private rooms, said Graham, adding that the medical center will move two adult medical/surgical floors to two newly-constructed floors of private rooms. The 32 rooms will be equipped with private bathrooms, window-seating sleeping areas for family members and wireless Internet for patients who want to be able to work or connect to family while recovering from elective surgery. At the end of construction, nearly half the beds at NSMC Salem Hospital will be in private rooms, she said.The hospital’s pediatric inpatient unit will be moved out of North Shore Children’s Hospital to a new 12-room floor in Salem Hospital. All rooms will be private, have their own bathrooms and will have sleeping facilities for parents, Graham said. A new, expanded Level II Special Care Nursery will be located in the same building, which also houses the maternity unit, providing a central location for women and children’s care.The planned renovations also include an expansion of Salem Hospital’s radiology department, providing additional private waiting areas for patients, and the re-location and expansion of the mammography service. It its new space, the comprehensive breast health program will continue to provide patients everything from screening and diagnostic mammography to advanced biopsy procedures all in one patient-sensitive, convenient location, Graham said.