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Dome - Operation Renovation

March 2010

Operation Renovation

By: Judy F. Minkove
Date: March 2, 2010

Howard County General Hospital's new ORs are a boon to patients and staff.

Technological updates to the new ORs include the ability to make adjustments during surgeries using a touch-screen menu.

Anyone who’s ever made home renovations knows that the inconvenience of dealing with construction noise, mess and displacement usually pays off when the job is done. That’s been the case at Howard County General Hospital as crews have gutted four of the seven operating rooms since the multimillion dollar OR facelift began this past December.

“Initially it was hard,” says Kathy Herman, clinical program manager for the ORs, “because we’ve had to go down to four ORs while they’ve been renovating the others, but it’s been worth it. Two of the old ORs were so small and outdated that we converted them into storage areas.”

The newly renovated and expanded operating rooms include the latest technology and were enlarged to accommodate equipment needed for more complicated surgeries, like spinal fusions and joint replacements. There will also be a new sterile supply center, making it easier to find and store supplies.

All the equipment in each OR is suspended from the ceiling on booms to keep floors clear and supplies accessible. Modern LED lights provide crisp and high-quality color, while flat-panel screens allow imaging and test results to be projected.

From the nurse’s station in the room, an R.N. can manipulate images onto the screen. Nurses, Herman says, “love that they can just press a touch screen to make adjustments to raise a cautery setting or increase the intensity of a light force while sitting behind their computer screens.” 

Additionally, each OR has cameras built in with the capability to transmit high-definition images during the procedure. The cameras fit onto a handle of the surgical light and project an image on the plasma screen. That way, explains, Herman, “we can see what the doctor is doing without potentially contaminating the sterile field by bending in to see how the surgery is progressing. It also makes it much easier to anticipate what the surgeon will need.”

The fifth OR is scheduled to open this month, and the remaining two ORs are expected to open by July 2011.