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ETMC Mount Vernon invests in facility, systems improvements

While not always evident to the casual observer, ETMC Mount Vernon has invested more than a million dollars in facility and systems improvements over the past two years.

“We’ve made a number of improvements,” said Brett Kirkham, ETMC Mount Vernon administrator. “Some have been to the facility. Some have been in the form of updated equipment. All have been made to improve the safety and comfort of our patients and the overall quality of the care we provide at ETMC Mount Vernon.”

Facility upgrades 

Perhaps the largest investment, approximately $450,000, was made in the replacement of the hospital’s roof. “We had a 40 year-old, flat roof that had only been patched over the years. We replaced it. It’s still a flat roof, but it has a state-of-the-art drainage system that helps ensure we avoid the problems traditionally associated with a flat roof.”

In addition systems such as electrical and gas, which are housed on the roof, received upgrades as well.

As temperatures continue to reach into the 100s, patients, guests and staff can appreciate the hospital’s investment in cooling system upgrades. Three rooftop units were replaced, increasing the heating and cooling capabilities in the hospital’s main areas.

Patient rooms are cooled by window units. Four new window units were purchased as well. Two older units were replaced and two units are being held for future breakdowns. “This way, if a unit goes down, we don’t have to move the patient while we wait for a repair. We can simply replace the unit with a new one, while the other is being repaired,” Kirkham said.

An upgrade to the medical oxygen system was recently completed.  This involved installing a main cut off valve within the hospital, as well as installing updated oxygen pressure monitors and replacing some piping.

“These updates were necessary to meet current standards and regulations,” Kirkham said. “It represents another investment that most patients won’t see; but that we depend on to ensure patient safety and care.”

Equipment and systems upgrades 

ETMC Mount Vernon recently transitioned to a medication management system, Pyxis MedStation, which is designed to increase patient safety and efficiency.

The system centers on computerized carts that hold medications and are securely housed in patient care areas of the hospital, such as the emergency department, surgery and the monitored care unit “The system allows the pharmacy to securely store small quantities of most of its drug inventory at the nurses’ stations rather than only in the pharmacy,” said Janice Millikan, PharmD, director of pharmacy for ETMC Mount Vernon. 

The system works as follows: A physician writes an order for a patient and pharmacy technicians enter the order into the patient's profile. Once the pharmacist verifies the order, it crosses over to the Pyxis machine. 

The nurse on the unit signs into the Pyxis machine via a touch screen. He or she types in their user ID and must provide their BioID, which is their fingerprint.  Only authorized nurses can gain access to a particular machine. 

After signing in, a list of that nurse's patients pops up and they choose which patient they wish to pull medicines for.  That patient's medications are displayed and the nurse picks which drug they are going to dispense.  The drawer housing that drug then opens and the Pyxis machine tells the nurse how much is expected to be given. The machine will 'lock out' access to medications that are not due at that time. 

The Pyxis system has several benefits for patients. “Time-to-first-dose is drastically reduced, which means we no longer have to wait for pharmacy personnel to get called back in or retrieve medications from the pharmacy. And, the machines have the ability to 'warn' nurses about potential issues before certain medications actually make it to the patient, thus increasing patient safety,” Millikan said. 

The laboratory has undergone extensive updates as well. “Virtually every piece of equipment has been replaced with more modern technology improving the efficiency and accuracy of tests,” said Crystal Williams, laboratory manager at ETMC Mount Vernon.

Among the upgrades was the transition to Novius laboratory software, which is used throughout the ETMC system. This allows hospitals within the system to share staff when needed, without slowing down lab processes for training.

Also, the lab has converted to a new system which decreases the number of steps to perform blood bank procedures. “This is a system used by many larger hospitals,” Williams said. “It makes the process more efficient and leaves a lot less room for error.”

Also, the lab is scheduled to receive a new microscope in the next few weeks, which features more advanced technology than the model currently in use.

Fourteen hospital beds have been replaced with newer Hill-Rom models, another upgrade that is appreciated by patients and staff alike. The beds have built-in scales that weigh the patients without the need to lift or move them and special mattresses designed to be gentle on a patient’s skin. For those patients considered at high risk for falls, the bed’s alarm system can alert the staff whenever it senses the patient may be attempting to climb out.

“These updates and purchases represent a major investment in ETMC Mount Vernon and reflect our commitment to provide the highest quality healthcare we can to the people of this area,” Kirkham said.