MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Critically ill patients at City Hospital in Martinsburg are expected to begin moving into a new, brightly painted $8.6 million intensive care unit this morning after the project’s completion was celebrated Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The 20-bed unit replaces a 12-bed ICU and four of the new beds are designated for coronary care in support of the hospital’s new cardiac catheterization lab, which opened in October 2010.
Physician Robert Bowen, who heads critical care services at City Hospital, told those gathered for the ceremony it was 20 years in the making.
“On behalf of the medical staff, I’d like to say ‘here at last, here at last, thank God we’re here at last,” Bowen said prompting laughter among a crowd of about 100 people.
City Hospital’s Chief Administrative Officer Anthony P. Zelenka said the project was done on time and under budget.
The structure, absent equipment, cost $7 million, about $400,000 less than what was projected, according to hospital officials.
The ICU is the second segment of the hospital’s $28 million project, and Zelenka said he expects the health care provider’s new emergency department to be completed in March.
Zelenka said City Hospital’s affiliation with West Virginia University essentially made the expansion project possible. City Hospital and Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson, W.Va., are part of West Virginia University Hospitals-East, a not-for-profit health care system.
“They are able to take us to the bond market because in all probability we would not have been able to secure a $30 million bond without their help or support for this project,” Zelenka said.
In giving a tour of the new 20,000-square foot ICU, Bowen said the old rooms are about half the size of the new rooms and the new spaces each have a window.
“It’s very disorienting being so sick ... and being able to tell where you are and what time of the day it is, is really important,” Bowen said.
Through a computer panel installed at the foot of each of the new beds, care providers can communicate at least on a rudimentary level with patients who speak another language.
“That’s a pretty nifty bell and whistle,” Bowen said.
Unlike the old unit, each patient also will have their own room in the new facility, which Bowen said addresses concerns about the spread of infectious disease while also enhancing privacy.
With the additional privacy, hospital officials hope to be more flexible with visiting hours for family and close friends of patients, according to Mary Ellen Clark, the nurse manager of critical care services.
Care providers also have computers in place to document a patient’s condition at bedside and from a station outside the rooms.
“Monitoring equipment is great, but there’s nothing like having a nurse’s eyes on a patient, there’s no technology that takes the place of that,” Bowen said.
Less noticeable, but of particular benefit to nurses, was the installation of flooring that gives a little under foot for care providers who are standing a lot throughout their shift, Bowen said.
The new ICU also is served by a pneumatic tube system that will quickly transport medications from the hospital pharmacy.
“In ICU, sometimes a couple of minutes makes a difference,” Bowen said.
Registered nurse Jenny McCauley, who has worked in the ICU for seven years, said the safety and technology improvements in the unit are exciting, so much so, she was planning to come in on her day off to help with the move.
“It’s just going to be a much nicer environment to work in,” McCauley said.