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At the Flip of a Switch, New Patient Tower Will Create “Pandemic-Ready” Isolation Rooms

When you rush to an emergency department for an injury or medical condition, the last thing you need is to pick up another illness while you’re there. That’s why hospitals go to great lengths with infection prevention measures, including isolating patients with COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

With the safety of patients and caregivers as our top priority, Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center is creating a high-tech air system for the new hospital tower currently under construction.

“We’re taking into account what we’ve learned during the pandemic,” says Todd Cohen, Associate Vice President of Facilities and Real Estate at Adventist HealthCare. “As we build the new patient tower, we’re incorporating new technologies to help us safely treat patients, and handle today’s most infectious diseases.”  

A hospital designed for the times – pandemic ready

Thanks to special technology, the new hospital tower will feature more rooms that can safely isolate patients during disease outbreaks – even more rooms than hospital building codes currently require.

These special isolation rooms are called negative pressure rooms. Inside, the air pressure is lower than the air pressure in the hallway. As a result, when you open the door, the infectious air does not easily escape into the hall, which could put others at risk. Meanwhile, advanced exhaust systems and filters pull contaminated air out of the isolation room and clean it before releasing it outside the building.  

And, with the flip of a switch, hospital officials will be able to quickly convert additional patient care rooms into negative pressure isolation rooms, too.

“We can program the new system to accommodate infectious patients as needed. We can shift the way the air in those rooms is ducted or exhausted – and make it negative or positive. We can create more exchange of fresh air,” Todd says. “In the event of another disease outbreak, we can even adjust the airflow to make the entire hospital floor pandemic ready. No need to close rooms or move patients to another side of the building.”

Safety Guided Design

In the planning and construction of the new patient tower, the safety of patients and hospital team members was a top priority.

“We heard the staff’s concerns about caring for patients during a pandemic. And we included staff, healthcare engineers and architects in the planning conversations,” says Todd. “We designed the tower during the height of the pandemic, so we wanted to make sure everyone was heard.”

The addition of more negative pressure isolation rooms in the new patient tower also reinforces an important message: People with symptoms of heart attack, stroke or other serious issues should not avoid an Emergency Department due to fears of contracting an infectious disease.

“During the height of COVID-19, many people didn’t come to the hospital when they probably should have,” says Todd. “So, we’re creating more negative pressure isolation rooms in the Emergency Department to quickly isolate patients as needed. Families need to know their loved ones are truly safe here. And they always were safe here.”

Other high-tech features in the new patient tower

In addition to automated negative pressure isolation rooms, the new patient tower will also feature many other innovations, including:

  • a replacement helipad on its roof, allowing for fast, safe patient transport
  • Newly equipped cardiac catheterization labs
  • Convenient CT scan and X-ray rooms within the Emergency Department
  • A lift system on the ceiling in patient rooms that will allow caregivers to safely help patients move in and out of bed to use the restroom, stand up to walk and transition to a healthier, more active life  
  • Larger rooms to accommodate new technology, critical team members and teaching opportunities

Look for the new patient tower at Shady Grove Medical Center to open in 2025.

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