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Emerging technology promises many new opportunities for same-day surgery staffs, but the challenge is building space to handle technology that we don’t even know about today, contends Judith H. Bernhardy RN, CNOR, director of surgical services for Norton Hospital in Louisville, KY. "We used to work with 10-year plans, but now we hope that our plan for next year is on target," she explains.
Bernhardy and her staff moved into a new facility in November 2000 that has 14 operating rooms that handle inpatient and outpatient surgery. Six of the rooms are equipped with docking stations for laparoscopic equipment, Bernhardy explains. While these six rooms are the primary location for laparoscopic procedures, the equipment is portable, so any operating room can handle a laparoscopic procedure, she adds.
"We also have computers in all of the rooms that enable the surgeons to view X-rays and lab work reports without having to search for paper reports or films," Bernhardy says. "In the future, the computers will tie into a system that can show the patient’s full medical record if needed."
Four of the Norton rooms are equipped with video, audio, and transmission equipment so the procedures can be taped or broadcast live to hospital conference rooms or even distant sites. "We are a teaching facility, so this capability will increase our capability for education," she explains.
In addition to the high-tech equipment, each operating room has its own warmer cabinet that holds blankets and fluids, points out Bernhardy. "This improves efficiency since a nurse doesn’t have to leave the OR to find warm blankets for patients," she explains.
Another nice feature of the new facility is storage areas for each specialty, she says. "Someone looking for ENT equipment has only one place to go and doesn’t have to look through other supplies or equipment to find what is needed," she explains.
The new facility was built contiguous to the old OR department, and now that it is open, the old OR area is being renovated into comfortable waiting areas, says Bernhardy.
While it is important to make sure the technical and clinical side of the OR is in top-notch shape, Bernhardy points out that anything that can be done to make the family and patient’s experience more comfortable must not be forgotten. "Make sure signage, waiting areas, parking lots, and food services are accessible and easily found," she suggests.