Innovative ICU Opens at EUH Midtown

May 2012

One of the cornerstones of Dr. Timothy Buchman's plan to upgrade critical care services at Emory was a brand new ICU at EUH Midtown. The $8 million construction and renovation project was recently completed and the new ICU has opened on 11-South. The design of the new unit sets the standard for all critical care in Emory Healthcare. A multi-disciplinary team of specialists and experts coordinated by Dr. Buchman worked for months to design and develop the ICU, specifically for cardiothoracic and vascular patients.

The design incorporates feedback from families of former patients and technology that makes care teams more efficient. For example, after consultation with Emory patient family advisers, Dr. Buchman's team outfitted each room with a sofa, armoire, and computer desk. The advisers also told the team that they didn't want to be separated from their loved ones, so the patient beds do not have curtains and family members can sleep on couches that pull out into queen-sized beds.

The new rooms are almost twice the size of the previous rooms and include moveable power columns and computers, lifts and oversized furniture for bariatric patients, and dialysis connections. Staff can stock cabinets from the outside of the rooms to cause fewer disturbances to patients.

In the hallway, there are six pods that serve as decentralized nursing stations. Each pod supports two ICU rooms and has wide windows that look into the rooms. A team work center in the front of the ICU allows a centralized place for staff, physicians, residents and fellows to discuss patient care in a multi-disciplinary format. Each patient room has a camera that sends images to the team theater.

The ICU also features quiet care. "Go into the average ICU today, and the first thing you are assaulted by is noise," says Dr. Buchman, director of the Emory Center for Critical Care, which integrates all of Emory's critical care units and staff to achieve better patient outcomes at lower costs. "Of course, it is important to receive and respond to alerts. But instead of putting the alerts next to the patient, let's send them directly to the caregiver." Monitors in the new ICU send alerts to workstations or a "voice badge" that nurses wear on lanyards to help them monitor patients as they move about the unit. Even the flooring throughout the unit and in patient rooms is soft and mutes the clicking of hard-soled shoes.

The design ideas also will be incorporated in a new bed tower planned for Emory University Hospital—where more than half of the 210 beds will be devoted to critical care. EUH Midtown also built a ramp to connect its operating suites to the ICU so that postoperative patients can travel from one to the other without needing an elevator.