Hauenstein Center open house set for Sunday

February 7, 2009
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Sunday celebrates the opening of Saint Mary’s Health Care’s Hauenstein Center, which provides new quarters for critical care and emergency services, as well as bringing together neurosciences programs under one roof.

The 145,000-square-foot, five-story, $60 million building at 220 Jefferson St. SE was born of a $2 million gift from retired businessman and World War II hero Ralph Hauenstein. The hospital’s Doran Foundation raised more than $15 million for the project. The building will be opened gradually over a few days later this month and is expected to be entirely open by Feb. 24.

Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids Bishop Walter Hurley plans to lead a dedication ceremony for Saint Mary’s associates and donors at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. A Community Open House is set for 3-6 p.m. featuring information sessions led by Saint Mary’s physicians about emergency situations, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

The first floors to open will be the upper floors, with 64 private rooms for critical care and offices and exam rooms dedicated to neurosciences services, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and memory disorders, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, neurosurgery, spine disorders and neuro-ophthalmology.

The critical care rooms each feature a satellite and iPod music system, flat screen TV and nurse-suggested features such as wall-mounted holders for essentials in the bathroom and a wall-based unit that has a rail insert that can be used as an IV pole — a modification the supplier made specifically at the suggestion of Hauenstein Center nurses, said Leanna Krukowski, clinical director, orthopedics and neurology.

Nurses were given about six weeks to try out a mock-up of a room and give their suggestions for improvements prior to construction.

The rooms include bathrooms with showers, a fold-out couch where a family member can sleep, additional seating and a small safe for patient use. A family lounge area includes a refrigerator, microwave, television and Internet access. Each room also has a motorized lift for moving immobile patients.

The universal patient rooms are standardized and adaptable, Pena said. Rooms are identical and supplies will be loaded in the same spaces in each room, streamlining organization for nurses. Also, patients will stay in the same room from intensive care to intermediate care to med-surge needs, she said.

“In this environment, they’ll stay for the whole transition in this same room,” Pena said. “Services are taken away as they get better. Every room is equipped to handle an increase in acuity in the patient.”

Nurses carry wireless communication devices rather than relying on a call system.

“This room really is caregiver inspired,” Pena said. “We had a mock-up room for four to six weeks and we had times when the staff would come through and do an evaluation. We made changes in the room based on their input.”

Another large room has been set aside for teleconferencing for medical staff. In the evenings, it will serve as a home for community support groups. Another room has been designated as a space for research done in collaboration with the Van Andel Institute.

On Feb. 22, Saint Mary’s will close the emergency room and begin routing patients to the new facility on the first floor of the Hauenstein Center. Access for the public will be through the new, 550-space parking ramp, with an entrance off Jefferson. Ambulances will use a nearby entrance area off Cherry Street, said Michelle Pena, clinical services director, emergency, trauma and critical care services. Some 85 percent of emergency patients arrive by private vehicle, she said, and the remainder by ambulance.

At 30,000 square feet, the new emergency room is triple the size of the old one and has 44 private rooms and four trauma bays, compared to 25 mostly curtained rooms and one trauma bay in the old facility. The trauma bays feature equipment booms from Grand Rapids company Skytron.

“We don’t have rooms just for chest pain, rooms just for orthopedics. These are universal. Specialty items are brought to the patient,” Pena added. 

Saint Mary’s is designated as a Level 2 trauma center. For the first time in 10 years, Saint Mary’s will have a helipad, which is atop the new parking ramp.

One unique feature is a bereavement room. Tucked off a side hallway, the bereavement room is an area for families of patients who die to grieve and make phone calls in privacy. Behind a set of sliding doors is a narrow area where the deceased can be wheeled in on a gurney to allow the families a chance to say good-bye.

“If there is a death in the ED, this is a special place we can take the family, as well as the patient, and give them privacy,” Pena said. “When something tragic happens, you don’t want it to be a fishbowl where everybody can see what’s going on.”

A 64-slice CT scanner has been located near the emergency department and an elevator, so that patients from the upper floors have access to it, as well.

“The ED is the biggest consumer of CTs in the hospital. If the CT is not in the ED, you have a lot of travel,” Pena added.

In a hallway that will become a main thoroughfare when the skyway to the new parking ramp is finished later this year is a set of nature-inspired photographs taken by Saint Mary’s staff members, chosen through a contest that drew about 200 entries. About 80 percent of the building’s artwork was produced by Michigan artists and was chosen by a consultant from Detroit.

The construction is creating a switch in the orientation of the front of Saint Mary’s from Jefferson to Cherry Street SE, where a portico will open into a new lobby to provide entry to both the Lacks Cancer Center and the Hauenstein Center. From those areas, visitors can gain access to the main hospital.

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