Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville recently opened the first neurosurgical intensive care unit in Northwest Arkansas. The 20-bed unit serves patients who are recovering from surgery as a result of a spinal cord injury, brain injury, neurological illness like epilepsy and stroke, according to a news release.
The Neurosurgical ICU is located on the first floor of the hospital, and the new service is part of Washington Regional’s $74 million Core Renewal Project, which also will include expansions to cardiovascular services and the laboratory. Recently, Washington Regional approved an additional $30 million to the initial $44 million project, and the Neurosurgical ICU was added in the existing footprint of the hospital after the pediatrics and gynecological units moved to the Women and Infants Center.
“With the Neurosurgical ICU, Washington Regional has made a commitment to provide a level of complex care not available elsewhere in the region,” said Mark Bever, executive vice president and administrator at Washington Regional Medical Center. “From a specially trained care team to the most advanced technology, everything in the unit is designed to accommodate the unique intensive care needs of neurological-neurosurgical patients.”
Patients in the Neurosurgical ICU receive skilled care from an interdisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians and pharmacists. The team physicians are specialists with training in neurosurgery, stroke neurology, intensivist medicine and interventional neuroradiology. The team nurses are trained in techniques for examining the brain and central nervous system.
“Along with specialized skills, it requires a holistic approach involving all areas to provide optimal care for neurosurgical patients,” said Kasha Pinkerton, nursing manager of the Neurosurgical ICU. “When caring for patients after neurological surgery, it’s important to be aware of intracranial pressure and how the brain controls blood flow. This patient population is very delicate and requires constant monitoring.”
The Neurosurgical ICU also includes advanced neurological tools such as a continuous electroencephalography, which is a non-invasive method of monitoring and recording electrical activity of the brain. The nursing unit has a visitor waiting area, dimmable lights in patient areas, ceiling-mounted patient lifts, bedside monitors and a nurse call system to help identify patients with risk factors. A work room allows for physicians to dictate notes and review charts.
Fayetteville-based healthcare provider Washington Regional Medical System has about 3,000 employees.