The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jul. 29, 2021

VW Health addition is state-of-the-art

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

In just under two weeks, Van Wert Health will be moving into its 86,000-square-foot hospital project, and, except for some finishing touches and staff training, the building is ready for occupancy.

The spacious lobby and “Main Street” corridor for the new Van Wert Health hospital facility are shown. photos by Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Hospital staff members have been giving tours of the new facility to show how the $40 million-plus project will impact the future of local healthcare … and that impact should be substantial.

Tours will continue through this weekend, and then the facility will be closed to the public so equipment installation can be completed, supplies can be moved over from the current hospital, and staff members trained on the new equipment. 

The new addition will officially accept patients beginning Friday, December 4.

Technologically, the new facility is incredible. From smart beds to robotic surgery, the new building will bring a new level of medical care, as well as patient comfort, to the community. Recently, Van Wert Health President/CEO Jim Pope got the chance to show off what has been accomplished in the design and construction of the building addition that will replace the current 60-year-old hospital as Van Wert Health’s main medical facility.

The new hospital includes a high-tech surgery area that includes four large surgery suites, with the largest dedicated to robotic surgery procedures; three endoscopy rooms; 16 private pre-surgical and post-operative rooms; a post-anesthesia care unit; a new pre-admission testing area with access to lab and x-ray services; and a private post-surgery pick-up area. 

Also included in the new facility is a more private patient registration area, private acute care patient rooms, dedicated critical care area that includes five intensive care unit (ICU) rooms, all new maternity labor and delivery rooms, a c-section suite, and additional OB/GYN rooms, more IT support space for new information and clinical data systems, a new café and gift shop, a new lobby, and a parking lot that includes security systems that signal when someone is having a medical or other emergency outside the building.

Smart board tracks infants and mothers in Van Wert Health’s new maternity area.

Each patient room is larger than existing rooms and has more space for telemetry, as well as a smart information screen on the wall that lets patients view the names of medical staff who are caring for them as soon as the nurse, physician, or other staff member enters the room. The screens also provide other information and feature the ability to translate the information into several languages. Patient rooms also feature smart beds that weigh patients, take their temperature, have built-in bed alarm systems, and even talk.

“They are state-of-the-art, top-notch beds that think,” Pope noted.

Each hospital room has patient seating and seating for family members, including a stand that can be moved up to use as a table and chairs and sofas that can be made into beds for overnight stays.

Pope said the rooms were designed to make healthcare easier and more comfortable for medical staff, as well as patients and their visitors.

The maternity area has enhanced security and comfort, including a tracking system for each of the new infants and their mothers, and locking doors to keep out unauthorized personnel and visitors. The surgical area also has enhanced security measures, as well as a dedicated waiting room.

Each patient care room also has an innovative tray system that allows staff members to stock the room with supplies and other items without actually entering the room. The system has a series of enclosed nooks with doors on both sides to allow access from the hallway as well as inside the room. The enclosed system allows staff to restock items or serve food to a room without entering it, giving patients more privacy, as well as lowering the possibility of contamination for both patients and staff members. 

ICU nurse’s stations are placed so that a nurse can input patient information on a computer while also monitoring patients on each side of the station through small windows. There are more nursing stations in general to make it quicker and easier for patients to receive assistance.

The new facility was also designed to get patients from one area to another with minimal exposure to public areas of the hospital. An elevator adjacent to the ER can take patients directly to surgery, while an exit from the surgical area allows those undergoing outpatient surgery procedures, for instance, to leave without re-entering other areas of the hospital.

The new surgical suites are both larger and better designed than those in the current hospital building, with enclosed storage areas, as well as easy access to sterilization equipment and other needed items.

The new Van Wert Health hospital addition includes (clockwise, from top left) larger and more comfortable maternity suites, photographs from local residents, a new robotic surgery suite, a large surgery area waiting room, a chapel that includes furnishings from the old chapel, high-tech information screens in each patient room, and a robotic surgeon’s control station.

The new robotics surgery suite will allow surgeons to provide procedures that are less invasive and more precise, allowing patients to recover quicker and with few post-operative side effects. Pope said procedures that are suited for robotic surgery include urologic, abdominal, and some OB/GYN procedures.

He noted that Van Wert Health is the only small community hospital in the area to have a robotics surgical suite.

Van Wert Health also now offers aquablation procedures: a minimally invasive surgical technology for benign prostate enlargement that uses high-pressure saline to remove organ tissue without heat through hydrodissection.

Pope said the new facility is the culmination of a two-year collaborative effort between designers, contractors, and medical staff to create a building that would maximize medical efficiency, as well as patient comfort and privacy.

Because visualizing a space from a blueprint isn’t something easy for medical staff to do, Van Wert Health built mock-ups of the various spaces included in the new facility — both patient and medical areas — on the fourth floor of the old building so hospital staff members could see what the spaces looked like and provide input on how each space should be laid out.

Pope said that process worked well, although he added that some tweaks will probably be needed in the coming weeks when staff members actually begin using the new facility, noting that money has been set aside to make those changes.

Furthermore, while the new hospital addition includes state-of-the-art technology, additional conduit was installed to allow for future technology upgrades.

“We took technology as high as we could, but we set it up so that, as technology increases, we can increase with it, we can grow with it,” Pope said.

The new addition also flows seamlessly into the existing ER area and the old hospital building, which will eventually be renovated to provide administrative and physician consultation areas, while also continuing to house the hospital’s radiology department and other support services.

To provide a further connection to the community it serves, the new facility displays photographs taken by local residents. The chapel in the new facility also includes the stained-glass window and pews from the chapel in the existing hospital building.

While the new facility vastly improves healthcare within the community, there are still plenty of challenges for Van Wert Health and its staff, including the spiking Covid-19 pandemic that threatens to overwhelm existing hospital capacity.

Pope said cyber security is also an increasing challenge in the Information Age, with Van Wert Health’s IT staff fighting malware and hackers “every single day” to keep patient data from falling into the wrong hands.

But the hospital’s staff has managed to meet every challenge coming its way, he added.

“Our staff has been wonderful, and resilient, as we work to overcome limited supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment) and a shortage of coronavirus testing kits,” Pope noted.

POSTED: 11/21/20 at 2:46 am. FILED UNDER: News