Sixty-four-bed wing is one of country’s largest of its kind
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) — Today marks the unveiling of UK HealthCare‘s new Cardiovascular Inpatient Unit. The 64-bed inpatient unit, on the 8th floor of the Albert B. Chandler Hospital’s new Pavilion A, is one of the largest cardiovascular intensive care units in the country. Patients will transition to the new unit on Dec. 7.
“Heart disease and the conditions that cause it, such as diabetes and obesity, are American epidemics, but there are very few states suffering more than Kentucky,” said Dr. Eli Capilouto, president of the University of Kentucky. “This new unit doubles our capacity to treat Kentucky’s sickest heart patients and brings the best technology medicine has to offer right to a Kentucky heart patient’s backyard.”
Capilouto emphasized that, as Kentucky’s flagship university, UK had a dual responsibility to its citizenry.
“On one part of campus, scientists are hard at work researching the latest treatments for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. But right here in this unit, our highly-trained physicians, nurses, and other staff are putting those efforts into practice,” he said.
According to Dr. Susan Smyth, medical director of the Gill Heart Institute, the new unit, which has 32 intensive care beds and 32 progressive care beds, represents an unequalled opportunity to help staff provide patients with the highest standard of care in a technologically advanced healing environment.
“Having a completely blank slate to work with was exciting,” Smyth said. “Doctors, nurses, staff all helped define the best ways to serve our patients on every level.”
Unlike other units in Pavilion A, the CV Unit will have its own Central Monitoring Service station embedded on the floor. “Even though the nursing staff is situated immediately outside a patient’s room, they are often away from one patient while helping ambulate another,” Smyth said. “Having trained staff monitoring patients in such close proximity provides an extra layer of care.”
Also embedded on the floor is an imaging suite for echocardiography, which minimizes patient transfers for testing. Existing imaging areas will be reassigned for outpatient use. Since the Gill Heart Institute performs approximately 25,000 imaging studies each year, this new capacity will reduce wait times for both inpatients and outpatients. In addition, the floor will be the first in Pavilion A to use new barcode technology for patient medication administration. Staff will use handheld devices such as iPhones to streamline delivery of prescribed medications to patients and minimize medication errors.
The Gill Heart Institute’s Surgical Director Dr. Michael Sekela emphasized that while the new unit reflected the latest thinking in the inpatient treatment of heart disease, they were also focused on the need to emphasize heart health to patients and the people who visit them.
“We will be installing interactive TVs in every room, with programming tailored to each patient and their cardiac health needs,” Sekela said. “Patients will be able to access videos describing their condition, their treatment, and education about self-care and healthy lifestyles. Once they are home, they will be able to access the same information from their home computer, which should help minimize post-discharge confusion and the readmissions that often result from that.”
Patients will be aided in cardiac rehabilitation by a group of physical therapy students and volunteers called CATWalkers. Overseen by a physical therapist, CATwalkers will continue the unit’s longtime policy to ambulate every cardiac patient at least once a day, regardless of their diagnosis or treatment. In fact, UK HealthCare is one of just a handful U.S. hospitals that helps its ECMO patients walk daily.
“If they’ve had a heart transplant, we get them out of bed to walk. If they’re on ECMO waiting for a heart transplant, we get them out of bed to walk,” said Sekela, who performed Kentucky’s first heart transplant at UK 23 years ago. “It’s part of the culture of activity that we embrace for our patients.”
According to Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs, “It has long been our goal to be Kentucky’s resource for highly complex quaternary care so that patients don’t have to go out of state for the best treatments available. This new unit brings the highest level of cardiac care available anywhere on one floor, in an environment that’s efficient for our staff and conducive to healing for our patients.
“Combined with the Gill Affiliate Network partnerships, this means patients get the level of care they need as close to home as possible.”