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Hospital board approves upgraded equipment for surgical unit

The board of Greater Regional Medical Center approved more than $300,000 to update equipment and the HVAC system in the surgical unit at Monday’s regular board meeting.

New fracture table

With this update, the surgical unit will replace the table it currently uses for fractures and hip replacement surgeries with a new orthopedic fracture table. The new table, which resembles a piece of gym equipment, allows the surgeon to position the leg for what is called direct anterior hip replacement surgery so an incision can be made between the muscles at the front of the leg rather than through the muscle tissue in the rear or side of the leg as was done traditionally.

“Technically, it’s a more difficult surgery because by not cutting into that joint space, it’s very snug, so to see what you need to see and do what you need to do is difficult,” said GRMC Director of Surgery Care Jackie Whitson.

The new table will allow patients to be positioned in such a way that the leg being operated on is lower than the rest of the body, a position that is tricky, at best, with the unit’s current fracture table.

By changing the incision site for such surgeries, it is less invasive and takes less time – six weeks as opposed to 12 – to recover.

“In larger facilities, and definitely on both coasts, they have been doing outpatient total hips for years,” said Whitson. “They do the surgery in the morning. [Patients] never go to the floor. They have PT come up and get them up and walking and then they go home. An anterior direct hip is almost essential to make that happen. We don’t want to do outpatient hip surgery. It’s more about less tissue damage, and anytime there’s less tissue damage, there’s less pain and a quicker recovery so you can get back to your life sooner.”

New laparoscopy equipment

The surgical unit will also be upgrading its laparoscopy equipment, which will cost more than $200,000. The cost includes new scopes and cameras, and new towers and monitors.

Because there are so many components involved, Whitson said the correct term is “video tower” and includes a camera box, light source box, machine used to inflate the stomach and image management so photos taken of what the doctor sees can be loaded into the patient’s records.

Recovery time for patients who have had a laparoscopy procedure is, potentially, cut by nearly two-thirds. Whitson said rather than spending three or four days in the hospital after having gallbladder surgery, the patient goes home the same afternoon.

Whitson describes the upgrade as similar to what most people do with cellphones. A newer, better model is available and after holding onto the old model for more than 10 years, it’s finally time to get the latest technology.

That’s really the beauty of that,” Whitson said. “We’re just going to make that so much better. The picture is going to be better. They’ll be able to have better patient outcomes. We have great patient outcomes already, but this is just going to keep us moving forward and staying current.”

Upgrade HVAC system

Heating and ventilation in the surgical unit has to fall within specific parameters, Whitson said.

“The [operating rooms] need to be between 68 and 70 degrees,” Whitson said. “They need to be between 30 and 60 percent humidity, and they need to be positive [pressure], which means if I was standing outside the OR door and put my hand at the bottom of that door, there should be air blowing out.”

The current HVAC system is not powerful enough to effectively maintain that pressure in every room where it’s needed. The upgrade to the system will cost roughly $50,000, but will enable the surgical unit to meet the required parameters and be in compliance with set standards.

Whitson said that because the work will be done at night, she doesn’t expect there will be any disruption of services in the surgical unit.

“My mantra has been for many, many years that we’re not going to be able to do everything, but what we do, I want you to have a better experience that what you would have in Des Moines,” said Whitson. “Not as good. I want it to be better because there are some things that we can do that they just simply don’t have time for.”

In other hospital board news:

– The board approved the plans for a new covered receiving area for the hospital and voted to move forward with the bidding process on its construction.

– Kayla Hoffman laid out plans for rebranding the hospital to reflect its growth and desire to progress toward the future.

– Jill John presented and the board approved a security system for the obstetrics department.

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