Recent changes at Lutheran Hospital are as obvious as the hospital's fifth floor, completed late last year, and the conversion of every patient room in the building to single-occupancy. They represent tens of millions of dollars in investments, and hospital officials say the many changes are all directed to improving patient care.
But Brian Bauer, chief executive officer of Lutheran Hospital, say the physical improvements and technological advances shouldn't overshadow a constant in the more than century-long history of the hospital.
“There's a lot of noise lately in health care,” Bauer said, citing the federal health care reform law and pressure from insurance companies as examples. “We've always kept our focus on patients.”
Seeking to improve patients' experiences when they're admitted to Lutheran is behind the move to convert all the patient rooms to private rooms. Now patients in each of the 396 beds have much greater privacy. Bauer said that he's seen the effect firsthand when he visits patients.
“There's a glaring difference when you are sitting in a room with two patients and two families,” he said.
Adding the fifth floor to Lutheran did more than facilitate a transition to all-private rooms. It also brought new facilities and capabilities for treating heart disease. The fifth floor, which covers nearly 60,000 square feet and has 96 private rooms, is entirely devoted to heart patients.
Twenty-four of the rooms are designated as a coronary intensive care unit; the rest are equipped for telemetry, so that nurses can monitor patient's vital signs and heart rhythms without needing to bind patients to monitors, which impedes their movement as they recover.
The new area also will include a unit for people with heart failure. Creating this unit in the new fifth floor builds on Lutheran's position as an accredited heart-failure institute. Besides consolidating facilities to treat patients with heart failure, the fifth floor includes educational facilities to help patients learn to take better care of themselves.
“Ultimately, the goal is to help patients stay out of the hospital,” Bauer said.
Another ongoing development at Lutheran is its growing kidney-transplantation program. “We did over 30 last year, and we're on track for 40 this year,” Bauer said. Since the kidney-transplant program at Lutheran started in 2007, 133 transplants have been performed there.
The hospital is well-known as a heart-transplant center; 276 patients have received new hearts there since 1985.
A recent expansion in options for patients came in 2010, when Lutheran was certified as a site that could use ventricular-assist devices for heart patients.
That technology was first used as a way to extend the life of patients waiting on a transplant, but now it's also an alternative for patients who are not good candidates for heart transplants, hospital officials say.
Just last month, Lutheran Hospital unveiled advances in its imaging technology – a magnetic-resonance imaging machine, or MRI, with a more powerful magnetic field that completes scans more quickly, and a new computerized tomography, or CT scanner, that can paint a more detailed, 3-D picture of an organ with a smaller radiation dose.