Saint Mary's New Home For Neurology To Open Soon

January 12, 2009
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With the concentration of brain power at Saint Mary’s Health Care’s new Hauenstein Center for Neurology, the Van Andel Research Institute and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids, CEO Phil McCorkle isn’t shy about making bold predictions.

“I think we could find a cure for Parkinson’s right here in Grand Rapids,” McCorkle said as the finishing touches were underway at the new center, which also will house a new emergency room for the Trinity Health-owned hospital.

When it opens in February, the $60 million building will bring together the seven neurological clinics associated with Saint Mary’s under a single roof.  With a new 550-space parking ramp becoming the starting point for most patients and visitors, a new main lobby is being built to funnel people to Saint Mary’s various sections. The hospital also will gain a helipad on top of the parking ramp.

Neurosciences 

Saint Mary’s seven neuroscience specialty clinics will be brought together in the Hauenstein Center, said Leanna Krukowski, clinical director, orthopedics and neurology.  That includes programs for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, spinal disorders, neurosurgery, neurophthamology and general neurology.

“They’re spread all over the campus right now. We’re going to merge them all onto one floor,” Krukowski said. “Now they’ll be strategically located right next to each other.”

While other hospitals have neurosciences centers, “I am unaware of another building devoted to inpatient and outpatient neuroscience like this,” said Dr. David Kaufman, neurosciences medical director for the Hauenstein Center and neurology department chair at Michigan State University’s two medical schools, the College of Human Medicine and the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“There are multiple subspecialty disciplines already established at Saint Mary’s. They are in different locations,” Kaufman said. “So the very first thing to occur would be bringing them all under one roof, so that staff, faculty, students, nurses, physicians — all will be assembled in one area to allow for the intensity of therapy we believe will be necessary to raise our level of care to a higher level.”

The center will feature 66 inpatient beds for critical and intermediate care and the epilepsy monitoring unit. The third floor will be devoted to neurological patients, while the high levels of care will be on the second floor with close access to operating rooms.

“It’s really concentrating the skills set of the nurses and the providers with neuro up on the third floor,” Krukowski said. “For the most part, the nurses have extra training, skills sets, and you’ll have neuro providers working up there.”

“From a university standpoint, it will provide a nidus regarding improvement in research and education opportunity,” Kaufman said. “So we’ll be able to show students at all levels — both inpatient and outpatient neurosciences in one facility is an incredible opportunity from a teaching standpoint.”

He said he expects the concentration of expertise will foster clinical research, as well.

Krukowski said more than 20 nurses have been certified in neurology nursing, which she called “a real coup” because of certification requirements for experience as well as education and training. She said the goal is to provide the specialized training for all nurses in the neurological unit.

Emergency services

A Level 2 trauma center, Saint Mary’s new first-floor emergency room will have 44 private rooms and four state-of-the-art trauma bays, said Michelle Pena, clinical services director, emergency, trauma and critical care services. That’s a major expansion from the current 25 rooms, with only a few of them private, and a single trauma room. The new facility will boast more than 30,000 square feet, compared to a little more than 10,000 square feet in the current emergency room, which will be closed.

It also will have a clinical and retail pharmacy open 12 hours per day, seven days per week.

“We can send somebody home with a prescription and they don’t have to make another stop, so that will be a huge customer satisfier,” Pena said. “Those hours will be during our peak times from about 1 p.m. till about 12:30 at night.”

The new department also will include its own 64-slice CT scanner and digital radiology, Pena said. Point-of-care laboratory services will be available for common emergency room tests, she said.

“For instance, troponin is something we look for in cardiac patients, and when we send it to the lab right now, it takes close to an hour to get that result back,” Pena said. “With our new point-of-care lab, we’ll be able to get that result in 10 minutes.”

A special lounge area will be devoted to children, not just for those waiting for emergency care, but those waiting for a family member to be treated. Pena said it will have an interactive game system.

A permanent decontamination room will be established so that no longer will an outdoor area need to be set up with temporary equipment, Pena said. Two air flow systems would allow for one side of the emergency room to be shut down, if necessary, while the other continues to operate.

“That’s really part of the disaster preparedness work that’s gone on since 9-11, looking at our biggest threats,” she added. “Really, in Grand Rapids, our biggest threat is like an industrial accident. We have people that come in with chemicals that are hazardous. We don’t have some of the bigger concerns like New York City or Washington, D.C., but we have a lot of industry in Grand Rapids and so we have to be prepared from that perspective.”

After a 10-year hiatus, a helistop is returning and will be located atop the parking garage for patient transfers.

“We’ve been working with a lot of the med flight companies and they’re very excited to start flying here again,” Pena said, adding that test landings and take-offs are anticipated presently. “The fire suppressant system — we actually went above and beyond what was required. So there’s some real thought and detail to what went into that helistop.”

On the second floor, 32 beds will be devoted to critical and intermediate care. Private rooms will accommodate a family member overnight. DVDs and four XM Satellite Radio channels will be available, as will an iPod port for those who prefer a custom mix. Each room will have a motorized lift, eliminating the need for two or three staff members to move, turn or lift a patient. Cameras will monitor patients at danger of falling. HQ

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