Handheld communications devices will alter the role played by nursing stations. (Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)
The new Golisano Children’s Hospital has invested $9.1 million in technology—a major reason the 245,000-square-foot facility will be at the forefront of pediatric care nationwide.
The purchases range from a new PET/MRI scanner and imaging equipment for the dedicated pediatric imaging suite to the integrated communications system and security system.
“Providing state-of-the-art care for children is kind of a measure of a society’s success,” said Timothy Stevens M.D., medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital. “And this children’s hospital is really a result of the effort of the entire community.”
The leadership team contacted national colleagues and examined a number of vendors’ products to find the best technology for the new facility.
One of the chosen systems features a roughly $5 million PET/MRI scanner—the first at a children’s hospital and one of only seven in the country—that combines positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans to produce more detailed images and reduce a patient’s radiation exposure. It will be located on the ground floor of the hospital.
The team went with a Siemens Biograph mMR, which is expected to be most beneficial to the areas of oncology, gynecology and neurology.
“We’re the only children’s hospital that has one and what it means is it really puts us on the map,” said Johan Blickman, M.D., head of the pediatric imaging department.
Blickman knows the importance of being the first to implement the technology.
“We decided fairly early on if we were going to do this and you really wanted to leave a mark and be different in Upstate New York, then PET/MR was something we had to seriously look at,” he said. “Because everything else we do, everybody does. We’re a full-fledged, top-of-the-bill pediatric imaging hospital. But the PET/MR is a statement. That’s what we think the future is, (and) it’s a statement that the Golisano is really for real.
“It will be a real magnet for very difficult and obviously sad cases,” he added.
The scanner will alleviate some radiation concerns by reducing exposure for young patients.
“The most important thing is that we know that kids’ cells are most sensitive to radiation,” Blickman said. “We know that radiation has a chance of doing some long-term damage. We don’t know how much—we know it’s very little, but obviously (kids) have a longer life to live.”
After testing a few other scanners, Siemens’ technology stood out, he said. The hospital opted for Siemens for all new imaging equipment to simplify the service process.
“The really precise marrying of these two imaging modalities is in our opinion only to be done in an integrated machine,” he said. “We wanted one vendor because that would make it be one platform and therefore much cheaper to service.”
Effective communication within a hospital is, at times, a more serious issue than at other workplaces. At the new hospital, nurses will be able to monitor patients remotely with a voice, alarm and text system called Voalte.
Each nurse will be outfitted with a Voalte phone—resembling an iPhone, but without external communication—allowing them to check critical patient information including blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. The vital signs can be analyzed no matter where the nurse is within the facility.
“Nurses will be notified via their communication device if an alarm’s going off in a patient room,” said Susan Bezek R.N., associate director of pediatric nursing for the hospital. “We also can communicate with one another through these devices so that we can (make) a buddy call for help.”
The nursing staff also will be able to communicate with one another through texting, improving the workflow system.
Nurses will not be tied to a single floor when checking on patients, but instead will keep track of patients through a centrally located desk.
“I think that it’s going to reduce noise, it’s going to increase communication and we’re going to be able to reach out for a helping hand in a more expeditious fashion,” Bezek said. “I think it’s actually going to make streamlined work efficiencies.”
With such changes, the hospital environment will be less hectic. The hope is for young patients and their families to feel more at home.
The layout of the building also contributes to that comfort-focused ambiance. It includes 52 private patient rooms spanning eight floors and an expanded neonatal intensive care unit that will con-tain at least 60 beds. Each private room will be roughly 250 square feet.
“I think the patient in the new environment is going to see a more relaxed atmosphere, a more private atmosphere, (and a) quieter (one),” Bezek said. “The whole building design has looked at trying to really be very proactive in ensuring that the patient care space is the most conducive to a healing environment. We tried to look at all of the opportunities we had to reduce stress fear and anxiety for the patient.”
Another key technology in the new facility is the enhanced security system. Called the Hugs Infant Protection System, it is designed to prevent children or infants from being taken or from leaving the hospital without being properly signed out.
“Across the country you read about these situations where a child inadvertently leaves or is taken, and this technology is the state-of-the-art technology to prevent that from happening,” Stevens said.
Each patient will wear a bracelet during his or her stay. If the child tries to leave without supervision, the doorways will be locked down and a strobe light will flash, alerting hospital staff.
Like the hospital building itself, the facility’s advanced technology is possible thanks to the community’s dedication, officials say.
“Mr. Golisano gave the cornerstone gift, but it was only a portion of the total cost,” Stevens said. “The university stepped in and then philanthropy from (thousands of) donors contributed to make the children’s hospital possible.
“I think that means the community recognizes the benefit of the children’s hospital for children and their commitment to children’s health overall,” he added.
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