Sarah Walor photo
Richmond infants and children who need critical care now have more hospital space, state-of-the-art technology and specialists at their disposal.
At Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital, a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit opened July 15, not only in preparation for flu season but also to provide much-needed space for patients. The 20-year-old St. Mary's PICU was moved from the sixth floor to the hospital's refurbished fourth floor. The surroundings are bright and welcoming, with windows in all 12 rooms. Each room (as shown above) is private, one of the main goals of the move. "When your child is sick, you so want a private room," says Nellie League, administrative director for women and children.
Demand for space has grown as specialists have been added to the staff, including around-the-clock, on-site care by a physician double-certified in pediatrics and a second specialty, says Mary Anne Graf, vice president of women and children's services for Bon Secours Richmond. Responding to this demand, the hospital added a rural transport team two years ago. The team picks up about 40 pediatric patients from outside the Richmond area each month.
A few miles to the east, VCU Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has added private spaces as part of its state-of-the-art overhaul. The NICU, which opened a year ago, is no longer a single-room design with beds for 40 patients in rows.
"We lovingly call [the old NICU design] the baby barn," says Sharon Cone, the VCU Medical Center nurse manager. "This collaborative environment best meets the needs of the developing premature or critically ill baby, the needs of the family and the staff." The new unit still has a 40-bed capacity, but patients are now in private rooms, with more than four times more space per infant patient. Because sleep is vital for premature babies, each room is equipped with acoustic ceiling tiles, rubberized floors, sliding doors, porcelain sinks and other design elements to keep noise to a minimum.
Technology in the unit includes a multi-level alarm system, with each nurse carrying a phone that sends pertinent patient-monitor statistics in real time as they move among rooms. VCU Medical Center is the first hospital on the East Coast to use a digital-infrared tracking system that displays on hallway screens what room each nurse is in at any given moment.