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Hospice, hybrid OR moving forward at Murray

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

Two major projects at Murray-Calloway County Hospital have moved forward in the last calendar year, and the hospital continues to focus on measures that increase patient safety and satisfaction.

The hospital's long-standing hospice care program has found a home in the Anna Mae Owen Residential Hospice House, which could break ground as soon as June on a five-acre tract on Ky. 94 West, Vice President of Development Keith Travis said. The MCCH Board of Directors moved to proceed with construction last December.

The six-bed acute care facility will allow health care professionals to address end-of-life needs, such as symptom control and pain management, in a home-like setting.

"It's a combination of care for the patients so that their last days are spent with dignity," Travis said.

The $2.5 million residential hospice facility has been six years in the making, said Travis, who solicited and secured the donations.

An anonymous donor pledged $1.5 million, and the remainder came in various amounts from nearly 8,000 donors from the community. It's the first major project at the hospital to be completely funded through donations.

Travis said the community has pitched in because the hospice service boasts a long track record of quality service.

"It's a program with a strong history and a great record of care and compassion for patients," he said.

Since hospice services began in 1980, caregivers have had the option of going into private homes to provide end-of-life care, or of caring for patients in a hospital or assisted-living setting that couldn't comfortably accommodate families, Travis said. The residential care facility addresses that issue, providing private baths and patios, kitchens, family rooms, laundry facilities and a family conference room.

"It's a difficult time for the family to start out with, and those other factors (such as space) can make it even more challenging," he said. "(The hospice house) is a service that's desperately needed."

Hybrid operating room

The addition of an estimated $1.9 million hybrid operating room and cath lab has also begun at Murray-Calloway County Hospital. The 1,000-square-foot project should be completed late this summer, according to Jill Asher, director of perioperative services. She explained that hybrid operating rooms allow for complex radiology equipment to be used in a surgical suite. With the addition of imaging equipment, surgeons can perform diagnostic and minimally invasive procedures without moving the patient.

"It's a wide variety of processes and procedures in one suite," she said. "It's a quality measure for our patients."

RF Assure

The hospital has introduced another advancement to surgical technology in the form of a system that scans patients for retained foreign objects - such as surgical sponges or towels- after a procedure.

Asher said that a small chip placed in surgical sponges and other items allows for patients to be scanned immediately after surgery to determine if an item has been left behind. In the past, patients would be X-rayed for foreign objects if the surgical staff's manual item count was off -  but about 72 percent of retained foreign object (RFO) cases involve falsely correct counts, she said.

"It's a pretty eye-opening statistic," she said.

Now, staff at MCCH will continue to manually count items after surgery but will also scan every patient with RF Assure equipment, Asher said.

Surgeons don't often leave equipment in patients. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety estimated in 2009 that surgical RFOs occur in one of 1,000 abdominal operations or up to 1 of every 18,000 operations performed. But it's still considered an event that should never happen.

"We are human, and humans do make mistakes. This is a check and a balance for us to assure all of our patients that there is nothing left behind," Asher said.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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