WHEELING - Two hospitals located in Wheeling are making great strides in modernizing health care for residents of the Upper Ohio Valley.
The new $50 million Tower 5 addition at Wheeling Hospital is certainly a big part of that equation. The 144,000-square-foot addition to the current structure will provide larger spaces for a new state-of-the-art emergency department and add intensive care, cardiovascular intensive care units, a center for pediatrics, physician offices and much more.
"Well, certainly Tower 5 is going to be a big part of what we're doing as we move forward. Tower 5 lends itself to a lot of specialty things, one of them is we are going to increase the number of private rooms that we have. So the odds are, when you come to Wheeling Hospital, you'll wind up in a private room rather than have to share a room with somebody else," said Ronald Violi, chief executive officer for Wheeling Hospital.
Nurses Leandra Potts, left, and Cindy Higginbotham, nurse manager of Wheeling Hospital’s Intermediate Care Unit, use a POD (Patient Information on Demand). These mobile computers can be wheeled into a patient’s room or left outside the room for staff to enter information.
"Tower 5 will go to all private rooms, which will allow us to make more private rooms in the existing building," he added.
Violi said he believes in today's world that private rooms will soon be mandated for hospitals.
"Every day we get a request, 'Can we get a private room? Can we get a private room?' ... That will go away and we will pretty much be putting people in private rooms," he added.
Are the local area's two major hospitals - Wheeling Hospital and Ohio Valley Medical Center - continuing to upgrade their facilities?
Yes, as Wheeling Hospital is currently in the process of building "Tower 5," a $50 million addition to the Medical Park campus. Ohio Valley Medical Center has implemented "Bedside Medication Verification technology" - an electronic bar code scanning identification system for medications, throughout all hospital patient care areas. The new system enhances safe medication administration and provides critical patient information that allows caregivers to make the best care decisions based on the individualized needs of the patient.
Violi said he is excited about the fact that with the addition of Tower 5, the emergency area will go from 7,000 square feet to 23,000 square feet.
"It's going to be a technical marvel," he said.
Violi said the new emergency area will have many more patient rooms and several more outdoor ambulance bays. He said the new emergency room layout will be much better able to accommodate a mass trauma situation.
Electronic Health Care Records is another area where Violi believes the hospital is making great strides.
"The electronic medical records system is going to change ... it is changing now," said Violi. "We kicked it off here a few months ago, and we're making great progress with it. Ultimately, we hope to be a paperless system."
He said he believes the hospital will be able to achieve this within the next two or three years.
The new $20.9 million Eclipsys Sunrise computerized medical chart system was launched on Oct. 9. The system allows doctors and nurses to input patient information that is accessible from any secure location. Clinical Assistant Christine Einspahr said having that data just a mouse click away allows nurses to be more active in setting a plan of care for each patient.
Violi said he believes Wheeling Hospital is "at the top of the pile " when it comes to utilizing medical technology.
"We have equipment in a community hospital - Wheeling Hospital - that is equivalent to anything that you could find in Pittsburgh or Columbus, and that's across the board. ... So we are really truly gearing up in the 21st century," Violi added.
"Our goal is to bring the newest, most sophisticated technology to the area to advance patient care and to ensure those we serve in the Ohio Valley are receiving the best care possible," said George Couch, president and chief executive officer of OVMC. "By bringing in these technologies, we are providing our patients with high-quality care close to home in an environment in which they are comfortable."
Couch went on to say that last year his hospital implemented Bedside Medication Verification technology - an electronic bar code scanning identification system for medications - throughout all hospital patient care areas. The new system enhances safe medication administration and provides critical patient information that allows caregivers to make the best care decisions based on the individualized needs of the patient.
In addition, OVMC has also initiated major efforts in working toward meeting "Meaningful Use" requirements, which outline the need for electronic medical records in the health care setting.
According to the Meaningful Use guidelines, the electronic medical record systems will allow for improved quality, safety and efficiency as a patient's health care team will have access to each individual patient's unique comprehensive health record.
"We expect to be fully compliant by July 1, 2012," Couch said, referring to the electronic medical record system that the hospital is currently implementing. "As we go through modular upgrades of that system, each modular upgrade brings us closer and closer to meeting the Meaningful Use requirements.
"Making patient information accessible and usable at the point-of-care, wherever and whenever it is needed, is the foundation for improving efficiency and quality of care for our patients," said Couch, who joined OVMC in 2010 after previously leading Wetzel County Hospital.
"One way we beat the trend in electronic medical records was the implementation and utilization of our state-of-the-art patient tracking module that was first applied in our EMSTAR Emergency Departments," Couch said.
He said he believes there has been great collaboration between many of the OVMC departments and physicians who are working with technology leaders to get a head start in those new computerized systems that are currently being implemented throughout the hospital.