The size and sophistication of the operating suites found in the new Santagati Center are undeniably impressive, as anyone who attended one of the open house events can attest. Featuring state-of-the-art video, lighting, and air-handling technology, these seven advanced suites are unlike any others found north of Boston. Less obvious to those who work outside Surgical Services are the incredible enhancements that have also been made to pre- and post-operative care units, sterile processing, and family waiting areas—all of which provide a new level of comfort, convenience, and safety for patients, visitors, and staff.
Surgical Day Care Unit
"I think the biggest improvement is going to be more privacy for patients and families, says Anne Barrett, RN, a longtime nurse in Surgical Day Care and Post Anesthesia Care. “The space gives us the ability to separate patients more effectively, which is particularly important for sensitive clinical conversations with patients and families.” Surgical Day Care will be divided into two large spaces, each with a nurses’ station. Nurses will be assigned on a daily basis to either the admission side or the discharge side.
“This was an idea our work group came up with as we designed the improved patient flow for the new surgical space,” comments Caroline Daniels, RN, another Surgical Day Care and Post Anesthesia Care nurse. “We felt the flow would be smoother and nurses would be more efficient if they could focus on either admissions or discharges. The patient needs in those two situations are very different and sometimes it’s difficult to go back and forth.”
Other improvements include a family friendly hallway inside the Surgical Day Care space, with a private family waiting area tucked away from the bustle, complete with a small kitchenette—all conceived with patient and family comfort in mind.
There are also a number of purely practical improvements in the unit, including six additional surgical day care bays; enhanced use of the ASCOM phone system for communication; patient lifts in specialized bariatric rooms; and six bathrooms instead of three.
Post Anesthesia Care Unit
The Post Anesthesia Care Unit in the Santagati Center is five times the size of the current recovery space. The central core of the unit is a nurses’ station and support space, where nurses will tend to as many as 14 patients, compared to today’s eight patient capacity. The team will also be able to do simple procedures, such as bronchoscopy, in the private negative pressure room.
As with the Surgical Day Care Unit, the design is one that supports patient flow and privacy, and family integration into the experience. From a practical point of view, the unit is gaining four bathrooms; the old Post Anesthesia Care Unit has none.
“It feels as though these spaces are finally built to accommodate the work we have to do each day,” says Anne. “I think our new surgical center, both the renovated portions and the new Santagati Center, will give patients and families a sense of confidence and security. We’ve always given great care, and now we look like a place that gives great care!”
Pre-Admission Testing will occupy the space that currently houses Surgical Day Care. When Surgical Day moves across the hall into its big, new space in March, construction will begin on the new Pre-Admission Testing Department. When complete, the Pre-Admission Testing team will have a new home, including a high-tech conference room equipped to stream video images from the ORs, a number of administrative offices, and mini conference rooms where surgeons can meet with families in private. Surgical patients will come to Pre-Admission Testing seven to ten days prior to their admission, to receive lab work and other testing and education in preparation for their surgery.
Surgical Family Waiting Area
When patients and families arrive for surgery, a beautiful new family waiting area will greet them as they get off the elevator. The space was designed with family comfort and convenience in mind. There are pods of seating to accommodate groups, a special child-friendly area, and a coffee station. In addition, a computer station with charger ports supports visitor’s need to stay connected while they wait.
“We have also anticipated families’ need to have as much information as possible, by including an electronic status board in the family waiting area,” says Traci Milnes, RN, nurse manager, Surgical Services. “Each patient’s family will be given a card with a specific case identification number on it. Using that number they can check our color-coded status board to see where their loved one is at all times. The card also has the name and contact number of our patient/family liaison. The liaison and her volunteers update families, help with requests, and escort them to Post-Anesthesia Care as needed.”
Sterile Processing Department
The Sterile Processing Department plays a crucial role in Surgical Services, ensuring that all surgical instruments are properly cleaned, maintained, stored, and available when needed —always adhering to the highest standards in quality and safety. Currently located in the Russell building sub-basement, the department has long since outgrown its space, says Dale Putnam, CRCST, CHL, and staff members are looking forward to moving into the Santagati Center.
As a member of Sterile Processing for more than 37 years and longstanding manager of the department, Dale has seen a lot of changes in both the volume and complexity of surgical procedures performed at Lawrence General. “We are doing more orthopedic cases now, such as total hip and knee replacements, which require a lot of new technology and complex surgical instruments, and more trauma cases,” he says. The impact on Sterile Processing has been significant: In 2016, the department processed close to 55,000 surgical instruments, up almost 12 percent from five years prior.
“Our new location will be directly beneath the operating rooms, rather than five flights away, and roughly three times as large,” explains Dale. “It will also feature new automated technology that will help us do our work more efficiently, as well as added work stations, storage areas, and a staff lounge.” Designed as a closed environment, the new Sterile Processing Department also features designated elevators for “clean” and “dirty” instruments, so all equipment stays within the building and separated at all times.
“It’s like night and day,” says Dale, comparing the new Sterile Processing Department to the old. “This is a huge win for the hospital and our patients.