Becki Vasse and Tricia Supik never thought that building design would play an important role in their nursing careers. But the two supervisory nurses at Carroll County General Hospital are getting a crash course in the field as the hospital begins a major renovation project.
"They never taught us to read blueprints in nursing school, but we're learning fast," said Ms. Supik, the hospital's director of medical, surgical and psychiatric services.
Ms. Supik and Ms. Vasse, who supervises cardiopulmonary and emergency services, are spending a lot of time in meetings with the hospital's building and grounds department these days, discussing renovations to the One East wing.
"One East is one of the older wings in the hospital, so we're glad for the opportunity to upgrade it," Ms. Supik said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in January to transform One nTC East from a unit housing post-operative surgical patients to a specialty care area.
The new wing will include two beds for post-surgical, intensive care patients who require advanced levels of care, a four-bed recovery area for cardiac catheterization patients and a five-bed emergency department holding area for patients who require cardiac monitoring. The unit also will include the existing four-bed "surgical step-down unit" for patients who don't need care as sophisticated as that in the post-surgical intensive care unit.
Within the next two weeks, 24 beds in the One East wing will be moved to One North, which will become the new post-operative surgical unit. This unit will house patients who have had routine surgical procedures, such as hysterectomies and gall bladder operations.
"We're looking at the population that we're seeing and trying to gear the services to those populations," Ms. Vasse said of the renovations.
A growth in the volume of surgical procedures at the hospital and the number of area physicians who perform more complicated surgeries were factors in the hospital's plan to create a two-bed surgical intensive care unit.
Many local surgical patients who require this care after vascular procedures currently are sent to Baltimore hospitals.
The new unit may house patients who have vascular procedures, complicated urological surgery or surgery patients who also have a cardiac disease. Demand for cardiac catheterization procedures at Carroll County General prompted the hospital's plan to open a four-bed recovery room for those patients. The recovery period is about 12 hours.
The recovery suite will free four beds "so we don't have people backing up in the emergency room," Ms. Supik said.
The hospital, which began performing cardiac catheterizations 18 months ago, did 500 of those procedures in the first year and had expected to do about 150, said hospital spokeswoman Gill Chamblin.
Cardiac catheterization is used to detect damage to the heart muscle and surrounding blood vessels, frequently after heart attacks.
The procedure involves thin tubes threaded through the blood vessels leading to the heart, with dye injected to identify blockages, Ms. Chamblin said.
To accommodate patients who require continuous cardiac monitoring, the hospital is planning to build a five-bed emergency department holding area. This area would temporarily house patients who are waiting for a room on the progressive care unit for patients with primary cardiac disease.
The holding area will free the cardiac monitoring equipment in the emergency room, which is frequently at more than 100 percent capacity, Ms. Vasse said.
Work is scheduled for completion on the holding area and cardiac catheterization recovery room next spring. The surgical intensive care unit is scheduled for completion in August.
Construction of the new emergency room is expected to start in April, with completion scheduled for 1995, Ms. Vasse said.
The renovations will nearly double the emergency room space and will increase the number of beds from 14 to 21.
The emergency room, which handles 25,000 patients annually, has seen a growth rate between 750 and 1,200 patients per year for the past few years, Ms. Vasse said.
The total cost of the emergency room and One East renovations is $1.8 million, Ms. Chamblin said.