First PICU patient arrives at unit in new hospital
By Joanie Morris
CONCORD — Connor Dunlap doesn’t appreciate it right now, but everyone else at NorthEast Medical Center does.
Connor, 11, was the first patient to be admitted into the new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at NorthEast Medical Center last week.
Alisa Rogers, a nurse in the Pediatric ICU, is happy with the new facility.
“We actually have a nursing station,” Rogers said. “We’re not right on top of each other.”
Rogers, a Kannapolis native, has spent six years in the PICU at NorthEast Medical Center. She’s seen everything in the old unit and all in the new and the new is much better.
“We’ve got the booms (ceiling hangings) in the rooms so we can move around to best meet the needs of our patients,” Rogers said. “We’ve got a lot more space. The rooms are larger … and a lot more private because (the doors) have frosted glass.”
Michael Vacarro, nurse manager in the facility, said the new facility allows the hospital to give “more patient-focused care.”
“With the booms, you can move the equipment out of the way so the family can get to (the patient) easier,” Vacarro said.
Dr. David Hoover, a pediatric surgeon at NorthEast Medical Center, has been working with Connor and his family for about a year. Connor had a condition known as pectus excavatum where the chest cavity actually caves in. One in about 500 patients develops the disorder, Hoover said. The operation performed on Connor was only the third performed at the hospital — the only center in the Charlotte region to perform what is called the Nuss Procedure to reverse the disorder.
During the operation, two lateral incisions are made on either side of the chest for insertion of a curved steel bar under the sternum. It is then fixed to the ribs on either side and the incisions are closed and dressed. The bar is not visible from the outside and stays in place for about two years, Hoover said. Children with the disorder often experience shortness of breath, exercise intolerance and chest pain as the result of compression and displacement of the heart and lungs.
Connor will stay in the hospital for about a week. While he’s there, he will get to enjoy the amenities offered, including wireless Internet, flatscreen televisions and lots of soothing colors.
For his parents, sleep rooms were available so they didn’t have to leave him in the hospital while they went home. The sleep rooms are also equipped with wireless Internet and flatscreen televisions, along with pullout beds and a small kitchenette and bathing area.
“It makes the family a lot more comfortable than they would be,” Vacarro said.
Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.