University Medical Center Opens New Intensive Care Unit

University Medical Center Opens New Intensive Care Unit

University Medical Center Opens New Intensive Care Unit

University Medical Center opened a new Intensive Care Unit on Monday, increasing its number of adult critical care beds to 50.
The new ICU on 5 East primarily will serve pulmonary patients in critical condition as well as overflow patients from the hospital's two adult ICUs, 5 West and 4 Northwest.

The unit's 14 new beds will be licensed as ICU/Medical Surgical beds to accommodate a variety of critical care patients as well as patients requiring more care than is available in a typical medical-surgical nursing unit.

UMC is seeing increasing numbers of critical care patients since becoming Southern Arizona's only Level I trauma center in July 2003. Since then, the hospital has been admitting more than 100 trauma patients a month.

"Our critical care beds are consistently full. This new ICU will greatly facilitate our ability to care for Southern Arizona's sickest patients," said UMC President and CEO Greg Pivirotto. "We realize that our mission to this community is to serve its critical care needs."

The new ICU will follow a family-centered care philosophy, meaning that family members of patients always are welcome in the ICU and even may sleep on a chair-bed beside their loved one. This is a departure from traditional ICU practice, which strictly limits visitors of critical care patients. Family-centered care was initiated in UMC's Pediatric ICU last year and has proved so popular among patients, families and staff that it is being expanded to the new ICU.

The new ICU boasts:

  • Six isolation rooms with negative air pressure. These rooms can be used for critically ill patients with communicable respiratory infections.
  • Remodeled floor plans to allow direct nursing observation of each patient room.
  • Individual nursing stations at each patient room entrance.
  • A family resource-and-respite room near the unit, with a computer.

Approximately 50 critical care nurses, about half of which are new UMC hires, will staff 5 East. The rest are transferring from the hospital's other ICUs, said Laura Carroll, RN, 5 East patient care manager.

Medical-surgical patients who previously were cared for on 5 East now are being cared for on 7 West, which also has been remodeled. The hospital spent approximately $5 million and six months remodeling the two units.

Steve Brigham, director of UMC Capital Planning & Projects, supervised the project. Architects were James Harrington & Associates of Tucson. Chestnut Construction handled the remodeling of 7 West and the construction of the 5 East ICU.