On Sept. 11, 2020, Dr. Stephanie Dunlap swung a sledgehammer at a 6th floor wall at Augusta University Medical Center, which began demolition on a new state-of-the-art Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.
A year later, on Oct. 28, 2021, the cardiologist held the scissors that cut the ribbon on the $13M facility, officially opening it to welcome the patients and their families who will begin to occupy the space on Nov. 1.
“When they recruited me to come down here four years ago, I said, ‘We’re not going to have enough room in our current cardiology intensive care unit, so we’re going to need a bigger unit.’ So here it is and I’m so happy,” she told AU Health leadership, staff and media who gathered for the occasion.
The new ICU features larger rooms furnished with comfortable, pull out sofas and full bathrooms with showers so families and visitors can comfortably stay with patients for the duration of the patient’s recovery, if so desired.
The number of rooms has been increased from 11 to 18, which represents 18 lives, said Dr. Richard Lee, chief of cardiothoracic surgery.
“So you think about that – 18 beds, 18 lives, times 10 days is 180 lives. Times 100 days is 1800 lives. For heart patients and guests in the community. That’s a big deal,” he said. “That’s really why we’re all here, and this is great opportunity to make a difference in their lives.”
Glass walls and monitors are strategically placed so that at all times the patient is visible and able to be monitored by physicians and staff. Charting can be done at the nurses station, at the bedside or in a small computer bay outside of the room but with full view of the patient.
Staff also have a place to relax while continuing to keep an eye on patients. A breakroom features monitors, a quiet room with a view of the city and devoid of technology, and sleeping quarters for the physician on duty.
Every aspect of patient care, with family in mind, was taken into consideration in the development of the unit. All heart patients will now be able to be cared for in one ICU, allowing the staff to be nearby and available at all times.
“Today is such an exciting milestone not only for our health system, but for our caregivers and our entire community,” said AU Health CEO Katrina Keefer. “I know so many folks who have waited for this moment for a really long time. You’re standing in the state-of-the-art cardiovascular care unit. It’s over a $13M investment that illustrates our commitment to continue to provide the most advanced cardiac care in the region.”