Rooms to Grow

BY Laura Rectenwald

This summer marks the greatly anticipated opening of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s (NHRMC) largest expansion to date advancing both healthcare and the way in which it is administered in our area. Both projects currently under construction — the new Surgical Center which opened in June and the Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital scheduled to open this summer — are part of a $220 million medical center building plan that also includes a renovation of the main patient tower and expansion of the emergency department and outpatient services.

The Surgical Pavilion

oasting 186 500 square feet the new Surgical Pavilion maximizes space allowing plenty of room for the most up-to-the-minute technological advances. “Our volume at the hospital was continuing to grow ” says Kathie Wheeler director of surgical services “and our technology was not as efficient. We were outgrowing our facilities.”

Although it took time to obtain the necessary license (North Carolina requires licensure for operating rooms precipitated by the presentation of a certificate of need) permission was granted and construction began. “We wanted this facility to be a showcase for our state and for the nation. We are a center of excellence and this is just further proof of what we’re capable of ” says Wheeler.

For efficiency and ease all Surgical Center check-ins are done in the new building eliminating the need to go into the main hospital and in the near future kiosks will be available for patients who wish to check themselves in.

After check-in patients and families are personally directed to their next destination. “It’s a one-stop shop ” says David Frederiksen marketing and public relations associate for NHRMC. “Not only are you privacy-ensured but the feeling of intimidation that is often present is nonexistent.” Christina Maroulis director of planning and construction at NHRMC agrees. “This really centralizes everyone so that no matter what procedure you’re having done there’s one information location. This eliminates a lot of the confusion that often comes the day of surgery.”

At least two family members are allowed to escort patients to the room and if the doctor needs time alone with the patient a small waiting room is nearby. “One of the biggest changes in terms of the design from what we had previously is the focus on the patient and the family ” says Maroulis. “We wanted the family to feel like they were close by and a part of the process instead of far away and anxious.” To that end there’s also a discharge lobby so those coming in aren’t confused with those going out.

Major advancements in the new Surgical Pavilion include the pre- and post-op rooms which now perform both services. Previously these rooms were separate and could only be used for certain procedures limiting clinicians. “The idea that we came up with to make it easier for patients and families was to have one room service the patient and family members for the duration of the stay ” says Maroulis. “The family members can use their laptops watch TV and feel comfortable knowing they’re not going to be shuffled around.”

The operating rooms have been redesigned as well. Patients now enter on one side while the other side connects to a sterile supply room. Everything has been lifted off the floor and mounted to the ceiling which increases mobility and flexibility while eliminating cords and unnecessary clutter. A new case cart system allows for supplies to be brought up from the sterile floor located below the operating rooms.

Tracking boards for the staff are located throughout the facility. They allow all NHRMC staff to see the status of the rooms and whether a case is near completion. Similarly families will also be able to find their friends and loved ones who are patients in a stress-free way.

“Our expansion reinforces the general dynamic of healthcare ” says Frederiksen. The truth is it does all that and a lot more. Every aspect of these stunning new facilities ensures quality care efficiency and comfort. Both the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the Surgical Pavilion provide optimum efficiency and flow for staff state-of-the-art technology and overall a more comfortable experience for patients and staff.

 The Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital

or many the completion of this 179 000-square-foot hospital is a dream come true. Barbara Buechler director of women’s and children’s services has been with NHRMC for 10 years and has witnessed the growth in our community first-hand. “When I first came here in 1998 I talked with the CEO and the chief nurse about plans for expansion but this is grander than what we ever planned ” Buechler says. “This expansion will really transform healthcare in the Southeast. For the first time in this region there will be full access to pediatric and intensive care all in one building.”

The private neonatal intensive care rooms and the pediatric ICU are two of the most exciting additions along with the recovery rooms for C-sections in which the mother and baby can recover together. “The neonatal ICU is on the main floor and there will be 45 private ICU rooms ” says Maroulis. “In terms of being progressive this is huge for the state. It’s where neonatal intensive care is going.”

The idea of keeping newborns in private ICU rooms is far from new and research has shown the results are incredible. “The private neonatal intensive care rooms have been an emerging philosophy for this kind of care ” Buechler explains. “There’s less impact of light and noise and every baby is in a controlled environment making it more comfortable for the mother and the family. Research shows that touching and bonding in a controlled environment is ultimately better for the baby.”

In an effort to make everything less clinical and more like home the harsh fluorescent lights synonymous with hospital corridors have been replaced by indirect and controlled lighting. Windows into each room allow nurses to look in from the hallway without disturbing mother and child and loud startling alarms have been replaced with hand-held phones operated by the nursing staff. Carpeted corridors will also help keep the noise level low and linens and supplies previously kept in patients’ rooms or nearby closets have been moved to less-traveled areas.

In addition to making the mother and baby more comfortable great lengths have been taken to ensure comfort and ease for family members as well. Sleeper-sofas washers and dryers refrigerators and televisions are some of the ways in which the hospital will give guests and patients that “home away from home” feeling. The hospital will also feature a children’s gift shop café chapel and consult room a two-story all-glass eating area and a pediatric playground for all ages — complete with a large castle and a saltwater aquarium.

To increase patients’ safety an infant security system requires every baby and child to have a band that if cut damaged or removed will set off a signal and lock the doors. To further protect newborns and children visitor cards are issued only for a certain amount of time.

The Surgical Center and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital are shedding light on the progress of healthcare in the Southeast. Not only are these facilities easier to navigate better equipped with state-of-the-art technology and more efficient for clinicians they are designed to comfortably accommodate patients and their families as well. Every aspect of their construction supports the involvement of family as a necessary component to treatment. With an abundance of light pouring in from the soaring windows plush furniture and Southern coastal décor you may forget you’re in a hospital at all — and that’s the whole idea.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital

149 rooms total

23 Neonatal Intensive Care beds

22 Neonatal Transitional Care beds

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit beds

17 Pediatric Inpatient beds

14 Labor/Delivery/Recovery beds

38 Mother/Baby Services beds

13 High-Risk Pregnancy beds

20 General Women’s Services beds

Surgical Pavilion

186 500 square feet

26 operating rooms at 600+ square feet each (compared to the current 430 square feet)

76 private surgical prep and recovery rooms

24 post-anesthesia care beds