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The Cutting Edge - Moving in the right direction

Cutting Edge Spring 2012

Moving in the right direction

Date: March 1, 2012


Once CSICU patients are in the new, larger rooms, consults and rounds will become less crowded. Pictured here in an existing patient room are, from left, nurse Roshni Naralakattu, physician assistant Emily Stewart, cardiac surgeon Glenn Whitman, pharmacis
Once CSICU patients are in the new, larger rooms, consults and rounds will become less crowded. Pictured here in an existing patient room are, from left, nurse Roshni Naralakattu, physician assistant Emily Stewart, cardiac surgeon Glenn Whitman, pharmacist Rachel Kruer, and medical students Jonathan Dyal and David Chen.

With the opening of its new clinical buildings this spring, The Johns Hopkins Hospital will make long-awaited strides in providing patients with the best possible care in the best possible environment—sparkling new facilities replete with the latest in medical technology and patient amenities.

But for the surgeons, nurses and other staff of the cardiac surgery division, moving from their longtime quarters on the seventh floor of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center building to their new location in the Sheikh Zayed Tower is a major logistical feat and a transition that will require significant teamwork.

That’s not to say they’re not looking forward to it, however. After all, says cardiac surgeon Glenn Whitman, who directs the cardiac surgery intensive care unit (CSICU), “it’s a beautiful unit.”

For years, the CSICU has operated in an extremely tight space, with few private rooms, and staff and patients often within arms’ reach of one another. The proximity, Whitman says, can be great for teamwork. But for purposes of infection control and patient privacy, it can be challenging. The CSICU is also some distance away from both the cardiac surgery operating rooms and the cardiac care unit (CCU).

The new facilities, on the other hand, have private rooms for every patient—not to mention three additional beds. There are also at least twice as many workstations for staff, with a range of new technology. Finally, the space is significantly closer to the operating rooms and shares the same floor with the CCU.

“We’re all looking forward to having the cardiology and cardiac surgery teams side by side,” Whitman says. “It should improve patient care because we’ll have immediate input from one another. Right now we routinely consult each other, but anything truly spontaneous or emergent requires us to run down to their unit and talk to them.” There will also be an increased ability to share scarce resources, like echo machines and balloon pumps.

With all of that new space and technology, however, comes some anxiety. There will be new technology to learn, and CSICU colleagues who were once within a whisper of one another may need to cover quite a distance to ask a question. “There could be some growing pains,” says nurse manager Jennifer Moyer.

“We’re hoping to hire more support staff so that nurses can have another set of hands nearby. We’re also looking to divide the unit into two or three zones, with caregivers responsible for patients in their zone.” Without a doubt, Whitman says, the unit is designed with the patient and family at its center. The spacious rooms will allow for complete privacy and comfort, and respite rooms will provide unparalleled support and convenience for visitors and family.

Ultimately, Moyer and Whitman say, any difficulties associated with the transition will be short-lived. The facility, they say, is spectacular and the long-term benefit to the patients, families and all who work there are immediately obvious.

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