Veterans Hospital in Reno opens a new intensive care unit

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 2:11 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - “We now ask your blessing upon our staff who will serve this unit. The Veterans that we will care for. All the equipment and supplies that will service this unit. We thank you.” A blessing from the chaplain at the Veterans Hospital in Reno was ten years in the making.

That’s how long it took the new and revised intensive care unit to be realized at the Reno hospital.

Back in 2020, builders, staff, and personnel said they were getting close to the construction of the new ICU. But then COVID hit.

It meant the hospital had to reverse course in March of 2020, creating a unit in the space formerly reserved for the new ICU to now treat patients infected with the virus.

Air filtration systems had to be changed to create all negative pressure rooms. All furniture except beds were removed. No family was allowed. Patients were literally isolated and so was the staff.

“Not only was the isolation for safety, it did cause some distress because everyone felt isolated,” says Denise Angst, the ICU Nurse Manager.

Advanced medical knowledge, vaccines, and effective treatments have changed where COVID patients can now be treated in other areas of the hospital. So after ten years, this space is relegated to an intensive care unit.

“Yes. Very excited,” says Angst.

The rooms are spacious, well lit, there is furniture in the rooms for family and friends to visit. Monitors can be used for tele-health visits for patients.

Angst shows us a high-tech lift. Designed to save a nurse’s back, it can also help patients get to the bathroom by themselves.

There is a break room for ICU staff. Nothing like it existed when the floor was devoted to COVID patients. The break room is bright and cheerful. Angst says it allows staff to take a break, regroup, and decompress.

In a new concept for the hospital, a supply room which allows nurses to collect needed items for patients. Instead of filling out forms or charting the material, the bins are weighed and alert others in the hospital when the bins need to be replenished.

Such changes can be a little intimidating. But in the end, they translate into efficiency, comfort and security for staff, and perhaps better outcomes for patients.

ICU patients will be transferred, and new ICU patients will be admitted to the floor all beginning Wednesday, June 22.

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