New Castle News

March 22, 2013

New beginnings: Jameson’s state-of-the-art surgical department to join ER in Monday opening

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County: Welcome to your new house.

It’s been nearly two years since the first shovel of dirt was overturned for ground breaking. And it’s been 10 years since that the dream was first set in motion.

But now, the $22 million Jameson Health System surgery/emergency wing is ready to soar.

And on Monday, both same-day and extended-care operations will take place in the new home, which ncludes two orthopedic surgery suites, four general surgery suites and two endoscopy suites.

There is a 13-bay, short-stay suite area for outpatients and a 16-bay pre- and post-anesthesia recovery care unit.

So much is new again — physicians, technology, culture, and quality.

The public will get its first chance to view both areas from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow.

At 30,000 square feet, the new surgical department is nearly twice the size of the former facility — a fact that’s practically kept Debbie Thompson, director of surgical services/ambulatory care, awake at night with excitement and anticipation.

Thompson described the new digs as “the luxury model.”

As Dr. Robert McGann, orthopedic surgeon and president of medical staff, pointed out, “They’ve built us a new stadium.”

There is much to look forward to, according to Thompson and Kim Nocera, manager, post anesthesia care unit/same day surgery, who led a tour through the surgical center.

Before, there were space limitations.

Now, there is room to allow more patient comfort, both prior to and after procedures.


With more than 600 surgical cases per month — sometimes as many as 40 procedures a day, including outpatient, inpatient and morning admissions, according to Nocera — more space was greatly needed.

Outpatient services account for about 75 percent of procedures performed, Thompson explained.

The morning of a surgery, families enter the health system through the new driveway and drop off patients who walk down a corridor to an elevator and proceed to the first floor to the main waiting room. The wing also includes an overflow waiting room.

In the family waiting room is an electronic case tracking board, which updates relatives or friends as to their location in the surgical process — such as the facts that a surgery has started or the patient is in the post-anesthesia care unit/recovery room. No patient names are used in the tracking system. Instead, each patient is assigned with a code number.

“That protects the patient’s privacy, but their personal care remains,” Nocera said. “We don’t want people to think they’re just a number. And as much as we care about the patient, we care about the family, too. Giving them direction through the process can help to alleviate their anxiety.”

After the surgeon leaves the operating room, he or she proceeds directly into one of two consultation rooms to confer with the family, Thompson said, adding that eliminates the former method in which a physician spoke directly to the family in the waiting room.

Neil Chessin, vice president of operations, is impressed with the privacy and confidentiality offered in the outpatient surgical area.

Volunteers are still assigned to the desk in the waiting room to take updates, and Thompson said she is appreciative of the contributions they provide.

The pre-op area also adds a new element of privacy — walls between each bay. In this area, set-up begins with a patient resting in a recliner. Preparation for surgery begins including paperwork and the gathering of other information, and IVs are started.

Nocera pointed out that each same-day bay has a flat screen TV and a cardiac monitor that is available if needed. The nurses station is situated in the center of the unit.

Earlier this week, was moving day as OR staff transitioned equipment and other necessary items from the old facility to the new area.

“It’s business as usual,” Thompson noted, adding that staff took four-hour shifts during the previous weekend to haul over as much as possible.


Of the eight surgery rooms, six are for major operations such as total hip replacements or vascular procedures, and the other two are for outpatient procedures including colonnoscopies.

Inside an operating room, Leonard Ross, OR nurse of 13 years, demonstrated how three monitors, lights, electric, gases, cameras, computers, anesthesia machines and booms are anchored to the ceiling to form an integrated $1 million system by Skytron.

“It should make life easier,” Ross said. “It’s all designed to make things more efficient.”

Everything is on a boom, which swings out from the wall when needed and swings back when they’re done, Nocera acknowledged, adding that it’s not necessary to pull in a cart for every case.

“Instead of moving equipment, it’s now a touch of a button.”

“And there are no cords on the floor,” Thompson said. “This is state of the art.”

Two large digital clocks in military time stare down into the room. One is for real time. The other has a built-in timer, which can be used, for example, if a surgeon orders a clamp be held in place for 45 seconds, Nocera said.

Between every two operating rooms are scrub sinks for staff and a sub-sterile room. Previously, OR personnel went directly from scrub to OR.

An anesthesia work room holds supplies, medicines and procedure-specific trays, and there are large instrument rooms and storage rooms for masks, gloves, kits and sponges.

“The old OR was worn out and outdated in many ways,” Nocera said. “This will better enable us to get the job done.”

In the 30 years Thompson has worked in OR, she has seen upgrades to equipment and the same-day unit but not an environmental upgrade.

Above all, patient comfort and safety is foremost. That includes a medication system from McKesson, which, after a patient’s name is plugged in, monitors medications such as antibiotics and sedation drugs while the patient is asleep.

Nocera and Thompson said the new wing and technological advancements will allow for more cases, help the physicians’ and staffs’ days move more efficiently, and permit even greater focus on patients.

“We want our patients and families to know they will get the care they deserve,” Thompson explained.

Lisa Lombardo, director of public relations/marketing said, “A dream 10 years in the making is now reality. We’re handing over the dream on Saturday during the community open house.

A pair of capital campaigns helped build the surgical/emergency wings, Lombardo said.

“We always had quality. Now we have the facility that we’ve wanted to have for so long. That should further instill confidence in our community about not having to leave town.”

According to Chessin, “We’re so pleased to be able to offer this new location, new services and new technology to individuals throughout Lawrence County who need health care services.”

“We love it,” Thompson said enthusiastically. “We’ve poured our heart and soul into this. It’s so exciting. I believe in New Castle. I believe in Jameson and this is our home.”