Remodeled ICU improves comfort for patients, families | News | The Press and Standard

by | January 29, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: January 31, 2016 at 10:37 pm

It’s a call someone never wants to get: a summons to the hospital where a loved one has been admitted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU.)

But last week, residents of Colleton County got something that will make that experience just a little less stressful — a brand new ICU unit at Colleton Medical Center.

The unit has been completed remodeled with a new floor plan featuring eight completely private rooms and all new equipment, down to the private “potties,” said ICU interim director Charlotte Valentine. “It’s a new building, new stuff and I like it,” she said.

The actual square footage of the unit hasn’t changed. But the redesign looks bigger by making better use of the space. And having all eight rooms enclosed as private rooms is a big plus, particularly for families who can now shut the door and have private conversations, she said.

“The first family who moved into the new unit said, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is nice’,” Valentine said.

For the past six months, the ICU was located in rooms on the second floor. That move forced patient rooms to be semi-private and gave the doctors and nurses only a tiny space in which to work. “Then when we moved in here, we had anxiety because we weren’t working on top of each other any more,” Valentine said. “It’s been interesting. A big, big, big change. A good change.”

The improvements will also benefit family members of those in the ICU. The unit will have a nicer waiting room and areas for families to “hang out” in the units.

Finishing up the waiting room is one of the myriad of details still to be completed, but when finished the area will be “very conducive for family comfort,” she said.

One of the things Valentine is most excited about is the arrival of “Priscilla,” a new critical care robot designed specifically for intensive care. In a couple of months, Priscilla will join Elvis, the stroke robot, in helping ICU doctors at CMC with options for treatments and ongoing care by being able to talk with doctors and specialists from other hospitals via the robots.

All of this spells big improvements for Colleton Medical Center. “We’ve done well and there’s a lot going on and that’s good. We just keep getting better and better. We are trying our best to achieve excellence,” Valentine said. “And the public is starting to see that it is different. We have people telling us ‘You’re doing great’.”

What is ICU?

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a unit in the hospital where seriously ill patients are cared for by specially trained staff. “Care in ICU differs from other hospital units in that we care for seriously ill patients who require close observation and monitoring,” said Colleton Medical Center’s interim ICU director Charlotte Valentine. “Specially trained nurses care for one or two patients at a time.” The staff includes not only the doctors and nurses, but also respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, dieticians, social workers and chaplains.

Patients are admitted to ICU for a variety of reasons — any potentially life-threatening condition that requires specialized treatment and close observation. Some need to be closely monitored immediately after surgery or serious injury. Some have heart problems that need observation, such as a heart attack, blood pressure problems or unstable heart rhythms, or infections that require specialized care.

Having a loved one in ICU is difficult, not only for the patient, but for the family as well, Valentine said. “In addition to an already high level of worry and anxiety, family members find themselves thrust into a strange environment of scary machines, unfamiliar devices and what seems like an endless procession of caregivers entering and exiting the room,” she said.

Patients may have special equipment in their room, depending on their unique situation and condition. “The equipment in ICU may seem overwhelming. Patients are connected to machines to monitor their heart, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Ventilators (breathing machines) assist some patients with breathing until they are able to breathe on their own,” she said.

So what should patients and family members expect from the ICU staff?

“The ICU staff will keep you well informed of any major changes in the patient’s condition or procedures that are being performed,” Valentine said. “You can expect to speak with a doctor on a regular basis. Members of the ICU team meet with the patient and/or family to ensure that everyone has a common understanding of the health condition and the plan of care. During these meetings is a good time for family members to ask any questions of the health care team.”

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