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Strong Opening New ICUs, Offering On-site Ronald McDonald House

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Strong Memorial Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong are preparing to open the nation’s newest intensive care units and on-site lodging for families. Opening this month, each will provide enhanced care and comfort for adults, children, and families from throughout the region.

“These three units – part of a more than $20 million enhancement in facilities and services – are the result of careful planning, and a desire to provide the entire region with the best in intensive care services,” says C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO, Medical Center and Strong Health. “In terms of improving patient care for adults and children, and making life a little bit easier for families, it doesn’t get much better than this.”

A dedication and celebration for all three areas will be held today. “The guest list includes hundreds of donors and former patients,” Evarts says. “They represent the entire community, which has given its all to support these endeavors.”

Kessler Family Adult Burn/Trauma Intensive Care Unit

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, the Kessler Family Adult Burn/Trauma Intensive Care Unit (AICU) opens to patients on the third floor of Strong Memorial Hospital, directly above the emergency department. With 25 beds, the 20,000-square-foot unit – three times larger than the previous one – is among the largest in the state. It is made possible by the generosity of the Kessler family.

“As the only New York state-designated Burn/Trauma Center in the Finger Lakes Region, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are offering the best treatment and the latest technology to give our patients every chance they have for survival. This new unit allows us to do that,” says Paul Bankey, M.D., division chief of the Burn/Trauma service at Strong. “From a new model of nursing care to state-of-the-art equipment, every detail was developed with one goal in mind: to continue to improve the excellent care we provide to our patients.”

The trauma portion of the AICU provides significantly larger rooms than the previous unit, and houses equipment needed to perform bedside procedures. Previously, that equipment was kept in one location. Among the many new features: Rooms equipped with separate temperature systems to maintain specific heat and humidity requirements, helping to maintain the body temperature of patients who are in shock from their injuries.

There are also a number of rooms designed specifically to help people suffering from severe burns. These rooms offer individual temperature controls, and specially equipped bathrooms and showers to make bathing more comfortable. The AICU also has an enhanced hydrotherapy room for patients in the acute phase of burn recovery, a physical and occupational therapy gym for in-hospital rehabilitation sessions, and an outpatient room to provide treatment for burns during nights and weekends.

The AICU features a decentralization of computer stations, which encourages caregivers to move away from a model of caring for patients in which health care professionals congregated around a single nursing station. Now, there is an individualized nursing station outside of each room, so nurses can review monitors and enter information into the computer without ever losing sight of the patient. This information is then fed to a central nursing station, where patients’ vital signs are also monitored. 

Each year, more than 2,300 critically injured or ill adults are cared for at Strong, a number that has grown by 25 percent during the past five years.

Enhanced Pediatric Intensive Care

On Tuesday, Dec. 14, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PICU/PCICU) opens at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong. Made possible by the generosity of the Robbins Family and Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club, the unit – which will serve more than 1,500 children each year – is located on the fourth floor, above the Kessler Family Adult Burn/Trauma Intensive Care Unit.

At 20,000 square feet, the new PICU/PCICU is more than double the size of the previous pediatric ICU, and is expanding from 12 to 22 patient rooms. Most of the rooms, in excess of 300 square feet, include a phone and data line, a 32-inch television, and a private bathroom, all for the convenience of children and their families. “We had the chance to design this from scratch, and we took full advantage of the opportunity,” says Jeff Rubenstein, M.D., the unit’s medical director. He and his colleagues visited nearly 40 pediatric ICUs throughout the country, noting the best features of each one, incorporating their findings into the plans here.

The new PICU/PCICU boasts more than 50 computers, more than 10 times the number used in the previous unit. This includes a number of wireless computers, which can be brought into each room. “This is a help because some parents love to see X-rays,” Rubenstein says. “They are very visual, and can understand information better if they see it themselves.” As in the adult area, decentralized computer stations allow caregivers to stay near children while using a workstation, a significant advance in how care is given.

The PCICU, the pediatric cardiac component of the unit, was created to foster the work of the hospital’s pediatric cardiology and heart surgery teams. It includes a four-bed area for children who require intensive care associated with heart problems. Such a facility is especially important because hundreds of children undergo heart surgery at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

In 2002, construction of the PICU/PCICU was pushed two years ahead of schedule, when Tom Golisano, a local businessman and philanthropist, made a significant gift to the hospital. His commitment, coupled with that of Daniel and Nancy Robbins, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, and thousands of other community members, will ensure that the PICU/PCICU has a positive impact the lives of thousands of children each year.

Rochester Ronald McDonald House

Within weeks, the Ronald McDonald House opens at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, serving families of critically ill children. Made possible by the generosity of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, it is on the fifth floor. It is only the fourth Ronald McDonald House in the world located at a hospital.

The House allows parents of the most critically ill or injured children to find comfortable, convenient accommodations near their son or daughter. Known as the House within the Hospital, it is staffed by Ronald McDonald House volunteers. When family members stay there, they are less than 60 seconds away from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, which is located directly below. The intent is to offer on-site lodging to families whose children are facing the most critical of life-threatening situations.

The new Ronald McDonald House offers seven private bedrooms, each with two twin beds, as well as laundry and kitchen facilities, and a family lounge. The lounge - complete with a large-screen plasma TV – provides a gathering place for families to meet, talk, and lend support.

An on-site haven for parents of critically ill and injured children is a blessing that few communities offer, say Beverly and Wayne LeChase, the project’s honorary chairs. “The new Ronald McDonald ‘House within the Hospital’ allows families to be right there with their children at all times. They can eat, sleep, and shower knowing that their child is quickly within arms reach,” the LeChases say. “Rochester is incredibly fortunate to have such a facility, all made possible by the generosity of the Rochester community.”

By any measure, the opening of a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Ronald McDonald House is terrific news for families from throughout the region. “This is another shining example of how our community works together on behalf of children,” says Elizabeth McAnarney, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Thanks to the generosity of thousands of donors, and our strong partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, we begin an exciting new era in pediatric care.”

Rochester’s original Ronald McDonald House, which will soon celebrate its 15th anniversary of service, remains open at its Westmoreland Drive location.

A product of careful planning

The new intensive care units and Ronald McDonald House are built on top of one another, above operating rooms and an emergency department that have both opened since 2001. Dedicated elevators mean that patients and staff have easy access between the units, which are closely connected in terms of providing emergent medical services. At the new entrances on all three floors, authorized staff can enter the units, and family members and visitors will be permitted inside after stopping at the information desk. There is no access to these units from outside the hospital.

The new PICU and AICU cost more than $10 million each, while the Ronald McDonald House will cost about $2 million. Although community support has been tremendous, fund-raising continues for all three units.


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