All eyes on hospital's newly renovated ICU

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 19, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — From humble beginnings located outside the emergency room to a $700,000 makeover, Rowan Regional Medical Center’s newly renovated intensive care unit means better care for the sickest patients, hospital leaders say.
Rowan Regional unveiled the remodeled 12-bed facility Friday. Construction took three months, and the hospital relied on a team of nurses, doctors and secretaries to plan and design their own workspace, ICU Manager Cathy Lingle said.
“It’s great. It looks much better,” said Dr. Kavitha Kotha, a pulmonologist and intensivist who spends most of her time in the ICU. “I like the individual work stations for nurses and that it’s well-organized.”
The unit’s 3,680-square-foot footprint didn’t change. But all rooms are now enclosed with glass to provide more privacy and cut down on noise.
Previously, most rooms were divided by curtains.
“That’s what we heard loud and clear from patients and family,” Lingle said. “It was too noisy.”
Patients moved in Thursday to ensure monitors and equipment were working well before the weekend. Hospital staff and visitors toured the unit and three open rooms, where Lingle pointed out amenities and simple changes that will increase efficiency.
Rather than one large desk in the middle of the floor, nurses now have individual desks and computers outside each room. The nurses station and medication storage areas are now tucked into one side of the unit, leaving the main floor open and accessible.
“It’s much more user-friendly,” secretary Robin Styers said. “It’s very convenient.”
A new pneumatic tube for quick delivery of samples to the lab and receipt of medication from the pharmacy will keep nurses closer to their patients, Lingle said.
Last renovated in 1995, the new and improved ICU could make the hospital more competitive in critical care.
“We want to keep our patients here in our community and do everything we can to serve each and every one,” Lingle said.
Physicians asked for the new dictation room, which provides them with a quiet, private area. ICU staff now have a larger bathroom with a shower and expanded breakroom with a flatscreen TV and kitchenette.
“We want this to be their sanctuary,” Lingle said. “They need a place to relax and get relief.”
Most ICU employees work three 12-hour shifts. The unit has 14 nurses on duty, day and night.
New floor covering is low-maintenance, and wallpaper has been removed to cut down on germs, Lingle said. The floors and walls give the impression of more height, and some people think the ceiling has been raised, she said.
The 50-year-old heating and air conditioning system has been updated, and temperatures can be controlled from a laptop computer, said Rick Parker, senior director of professional and support services.
Families of patients will find a large waiting area with a kitchen, TV, volunteer station and ample seating. Each patient room features a white board where staff will communicate with family members about who is taking care of their loved one and any special instructions.
During construction, the hospital set up a temporary eight-bed ICU, which required state approval.
“Shutting down the ICU and relocating it understandably made a lot of nurses and administrators nervous,” Parker said.
The completed project means more privacy for patients and a better work environment for staff, hospital President Dari Caldwell said.
“I started my career as a critical care nurse, so I know how important it is to have great visibility of your patients and be there at the bedside,” she said. “We’ve created an environment that will allow for that.”
New and improved
Rowan Regional Medical Center’s renovated ICU features:
n All glassed-in rooms for privacy and quiet
n New heating and cooling system
n Computer station outside patient rooms for nurses to increase visualization and time with patients
n Improved family waiting and dining areas to provide comfort to guests visiting loved ones
n New communication tools in patient rooms such as dry erase board to provide useful information
n New paint and flooring throughout unit
n New curtains in all patient rooms
n New nurses station and secretary desk area to provide better flow and movement around the unit
n New physician dictation room to provide privacy
n New pneumatic tube system to communicate with other departments around our hospital
n Additional sink in the unit for easy access to hand washing
n New large refrigerator for medication storage
n Renovated clean utility room and patient nourishment area within unit for better access for patient needs
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.