A new kind of safety net is arriving at UC Health’s University Hospital and the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute on May 1. It is patient-friendly, family-friendly and, for some, possibly life-saving as well. It has a fancy name — “acuity-adjustable unit” – but its goals are fairly straightforward. Instead of moving a recovering patient from room to room, and from one clinical team to another, the unit adjusts a single room and clinical team to the individual needs of the patient.
In short, a room’s technologies change according to the acuteness, or severity, of the patient’s condition. As the patient recovers, higher-level monitoring equipment can be rolled away.
“This concept originated in cardiovascular care, and the UC Neuroscience Institute is the first to implement it for neurosurgery,” said UC Brain Tumor Center Medical Director Ronald Warnick, MD, who proposed and championed the unit. “In the past, a patient might be in three or four different rooms within the hospital.”
Acuity-adjustable units previously established for cardiovascular patients have reduced medical errors, falls and patient anxiety, Dr. Warnick said. “Hospitals with cardiovascular acuity-adjustable units have seen a drop of up to 90 percent in the number of transfers to new beds, a 70 percent reduction in medication errors and a 75 percent decrease in patient falls. We expect to see similarly significant benefits for our neurosurgical patients.”
Dr. Warnick and other leaders of the Brain Tumor Center and UC Neuroscience Institute this week unveiled the spacious, soft-hued acuity-adjustable unit on the fourth floor of University Hospital. Donors and members of the Brain Tumor Center’s Community Advisory Board got the first peek. Those in attendance included Ginger Warner, a member of the UC Board of Trustees who, with her husband, David, provided significant funding for a private educational alcove located just outside the unit.
The unit represents an important new addition at the UC Neuroscience Institute. It will primarily serve patients who are recovering from brain tumor surgery, but it will also serve patients who are recovering from procedures relating to cerebrovascular disease, epilepsy, Chiari malformation and other neurological disorders. Critically ill neurological patients, including those who have suffered a bleeding stroke or a traumatic brain injury, will continue to receive care in University Hospital’s state-of-the-art Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit.
The acuity-adjustable unit includes 10 patient rooms, two of which are hard-wired to accommodate epilepsy patients who require continuous monitoring for seizures. Another patient room includes a mechanized lift to serve bariatric patients. Two rooms have negative air flow for patients requiring isolation. All rooms include a pull-out bed and are designed so that a family member can stay with his or her loved one around the clock.
Also among the high-tech amenities is a purse-sized portable monitor, shown in the photo above by Heidi Salyer, RN, CNRN, Director of Nursing for Neuroscience. A patient who is ready for a walk down the hall can carry the device and continue to receive monitoring oversight.
Ms. Salyer said that patients and families will participate not only in their loved one’s care but also in the shift change so that observations and instructions are conveyed clearly.
Daily rounds will be collaborative, will be held at the bedside, and will include a nurse practitioner and social workers. Families who participate in their loved one’s recovery in this way will know how to continue that care when their loved one goes home, Ms. Salyer said.
Kathy Beechem, Chair of the Brain Tumor Center’s Community Advisory Board said, “The new unit is based on the idea that you come here to recover. You never have to leave your room, and your family can stay.”
– Cindy Starr