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Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Gets a Move On as Patients, Staff Wheel to New Wing

Two years in the planning, massive transition to new hospital is bookmarked by births and christened with a surgery in a new operating room

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital staff spent Sunday moving 102 patients to its new hospital, a meticulously timed process that administrators had spent two years planning.

The new hospital took a decade to design, build and fund, with the help of a $111 million community capital campaign.

To prepare 2,000 employees for the transition, hospital administrators spent 13,000 hours in training for both the move itself and getting staff members comfortable operating the new equipment. In addition to patient care rooms, the new hospital has new operating rooms, labs and other specialty areas.

The preparations went so far as to hold two “days in the life” to run each new department as if staff members were taking care of patients, Cottage Health System chief operating officer Steve Fellows said.

The move was pretty straightforward; the real work is making sure the hospital’s staff is confident using the new equipment, he added.

The move went smoothly, starting at 7 a.m. Sunday and ending just before noon. By 12:15 p.m., the new hospital had its first surgery: A 7-month-old baby underwent an emergency procedure performed by Dr. Tamir Keshen, a pediatric surgeon, in a brand-new operating room.

Timing was essential during the move, especially with critical-care patients, and each patient was moved in his or her bed accompanied by a team of a nurse, a transporter and a specialist, if necessary. Organizers had the timing down to the minute, with each staff member pinned with a radio and in constant communication with colleagues a hallway or a wing away. Critical-care patients were moved room-to-room within two or three minutes and there was a 9.5-minute average transport time for other patients, said Nathan Sigler, the hospital’s director of transition planning.

Some patients were on ventilators or drips and needed constant monitoring, so physicians were stationed at each end of the move to conduct evaluations and ensure patients remained stable. The labor and delivery unit, post-delivery unit, and medical and surgical intensive-care unit patients were moved Sunday to the new patient rooms, Fellows said.

Security was stationed throughout the patient moving route, with officers directing traffic to the elevators between beds, equipment and supplies being wheeled to the new hospital.

Expectant and new mothers were moved early Sunday, and it wasn’t long before the new hospital’s first baby was born. At 7:48 a.m. Sunday, proud parents Maria and Agustin Cortes Arroyo of Santa Barbara welcomed their son, Agustin, at 8 pounds, 6 ounces. Agustin’s dad and big sister, Diana, were visiting with the newest addition to their family late Sunday morning.

Just down the hall were Quy and Jay Neel and their son, Jake, who was born at 5:33 p.m. Saturday, making him the last birth in the original hospital’s maternity ward. Jake is the Santa Barbara couple’s first child and Neel said he would be spending the night on the pull-out couch that is a feature of every new patient room.

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is not finished with its construction. To comply with a 1994 state law requiring acute-care hospitals to be retrofitted or rebuilt to withstand — and function after — a magnitude-6 earthquake, the hospital embarked on a seven-phase process in 2005. The newest facility’s completion is only phase four in a project that is not expected to be completed until 2017.

Among the next improvements is a computerized pharmacy that will make its debut in March, Fellows said.

Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital is undergoing a similar overhaul to meet the law’s requirements.

The Santa Barbara hospital’s new helipad is already operational and, while expected to be used twice a week, fielded five helicopters in a four-hour window Feb. 7. The number of landings was unusual, Cottage Health System spokeswoman Janet O’Neill said. Three helicopters had incoming patients and two were picking up patients to fly to Los Angeles. When one arrived to find an occupied helipad, it had to circle the neighborhood.

There will be a community meeting on the subject at 6 p.m. Monday in the Burtness Auditorium at the hospital, 400 W. Pueblo St.

Click here for more photos on Noozhawk’s Pinterest page.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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