By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Registered nurse Jen Pollack doubted she'd see Winchester Medical Center build its new North Tower and the critical care unit.
Pollack returned to work at the Valley Health hospital three years ago to see the project taking shape. She worked in the old critical care unit before moving into the new area in the North Tower which opened Dec. 12.
"It's so much brighter and cheerful over here," Pollack said. "The whole month before we actually moved over here I spent a lot of time over here educating people to the room so we cut through the other medical ICU and we called it 'coming over to Narnia.'"
Valley Health and hospital officials celebrated the completion of the North Tower at a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday. Al Pilong, president of Winchester Medical Center, reminded the audience that 22 years to the day the hospital began moving patients from original location on West Cork Street to the site on Amherst Street.
As Pilong explained the project's completion comes after six years of planning and construction as part of a larger $161 million expansion of the Amherst Street campus.
The North Tower includes an expanded emergency department, the new, 48-bed critical care unit, as well as labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units, which relocate Jan. 31. Beds increase from 411 to 445.
"This facility changes the way we deliver care and it allows us to join the top echelon of health care facilities, technologically advanced, up there with any other facility across the country," Pilong said.
Pilong lauded the hospital's work force.
"Winchester Medical Center, yes, has impressive facilities and buildings and technology, but most important we have very impressive people," Pilong said. "Buildings don't provide care. People do, and the people we have ... they are second to none."
Dr. T. Glen Boude, who serves as director of Valley Intensivists, spoke of the patients and caregivers. Bouder said he considers the intensive care unit "not as a building but as a proud group of professionals of all different types who give their all to save the sickest of the sick."
The audience also heard from Dr. James K. Nashed, with Winchester Women's Specialists, about the obstetrics and gynecology area of the North Tower. Dr. Teresa L Clawson, with the Neonatal Center of Winchester, spoke about the neonatal intensive care unit.
Those in the audience toured the facility after the ribbon cutting.
"The room sizes are tremendously better so we can actually get patients in and out of here with minimal work," Pollack said. "It's nice because the booms make the room very flexible."
Equipment is connected to articulating booms that are attached to the ceiling. Hospital workers can move the booms in various configurations to accommodate the bed, the patient and other equipment staff may need to bring into the rooms. As Pollack demonstrated, she can move the booms away from the bed which she then turns to face the window if a patient so desired.