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Instruments of care

Hospital lets visitors see operating room area

Hospital lets visitors see operating room area

November 15, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown resident Laurel Brown had been in Washington County Hospital's operating room three times before this weekend.

But unlike those past occasions, this time Brown was awake and got to see some of what goes on behind the scenes in the hospital's operating room.

The 14th annual open house at the hospital's operating room area was Sunday, in observance of Perioperative Nurse Week. About three dozen area residents toured and asked questions inside the small, vital portion of the hospital.

First Surgical Assistant Peggy Hardinge said it is important to let people come through once a year so they can understand the facility's capabilities. Hardinge, who has worked at the hospital since 1972, is one of five assistants who - for a change - got to go past the operating room's red line without wearing a full uniform and going through a 10-minute, hand-washing/mask-choosing ritual that starts each day.

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Carrie Turner, who has been with the hospital for eight years, said she believes the annual walk-through puts many people more at ease when they have to return for surgery.

"It's a mysterious area people don't get to see often," Turner said. "This is a way for people to come in when they're more relaxed to see what we do."

Three of the operating rooms were open to the public Sunday. In one room, a surgeon talked in depth about placing rods into a damaged hip. In another, a nurse explained various procedures relating to spinal injuries. In a third, visitors got a chance to use surgical equipment to pick pieces of candy out of a simulated body using an exploratory camera system.

Visitors looked around at tables full of metal surgical tools and overhead lights, among other equipment.

Brown said she never has been uncomfortable with the service provided at the facility in her previous trips. However, she was "curious" to see what goes on there.

"I've been here three times and never saw past the holding area because I was out," Brown said.

Tom Hefelfinger, of Hagerstown, could only muster two words in the first seconds after concluding a stop in an operating room: "Oh my."

"I'm glad I'm not having any of that done on me at the moment," Hefelfinger said. "You've heard of people having (procedures) done, but to see the appliances involved is interesting. This stuff reminds you of being at a hardware store."

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