Nurses have a hand in designing new orthopedic and spine treatment unit

A 42-bed unit dedicated to orthopedic and spine treatment will open at Pinnacle Health Harrisburg Hospital on Sunday.

(Pennlive) Beginning Sunday, Pennsylvania’s leading orthopedic hospital will be offering patients more comfortable, quiet and efficient care as Pinnacle Health opens the doors to its 42-bed orthopedic and spine unit at Harrisburg Hospital.

“It’s going to be state of the art,” said Courtney Trulear, 27, of Harrisburg, a permanent charge nurse on the unit.

Trulear was part of a five-person team of nurses that met every two weeks for six months, sitting at a table with the construction crew poring over blueprints for the new unit.

“We talked about everything from where we wanted stuff located to the equipment we’d need,” Trulear said. She said the nurses told the construction crew what they wanted, and if they couldn’t do it, they’d explain why, “but for the most part, they just did it,” she said.

“We’re the ones who have to function on the floor, and we know what’s needed for best care of the patients,” Trulear said.

A 42-bed unit dedicated to orthopedic and spine treatment will open at PinnacleHealth Harrisburg Hospital on Sunday.The Patriot-News, file

The team included nurses with more than 25 years experience, and two who had also been patients during knee replacements.

The result is a nursing suite that emphasizes patient comfort and nursing efficiency, Trulear said.

All the rooms are hotel-style private suites with natural lighting, spacious bathrooms, flat-screen cable TVs, customized furniture for joint-replacement and spine patients, and a pullout sofa bed for family and visitors.

“There’s a lot of anxiety going into a surgery,” Trulear said. “If the family can spend the night with you and be comfortable, that helps everybody, really.”

She said the family knows the patient best and can help nurses care for them better.

In addition to added comfort, the new design makes it easier for nurses to do their jobs, she said.

The normal controlled chaos and equipment clutter of a nursing suite is reduced by having storage for wheelchairs and walkers in every room.

The new rooms also have built-in bedside vital signs monitors, which reduces nurses hauling carts around.

In fact, Trulear said, “They are eliminating everything on wheels,” which cuts down on noise in the unit as well as physical wear on the nurses

“It’s going to be a time saver for the staff, and that gives more time for patient care,” she said.

Waiting rooms are tailored specifically to families of unit patients. Flat screens will offer regular updates on each patient’s progress through surgery and recovery, and there will be a separate room where families can talk with the doctor after surgery through a computer video connection.

Trulear said the direct involvement of nurses in planning the facility was a pleasant surprise for her.

“To have an actual voice is incredible,” she said, “to really be heard is an incredible thing. It’s a good change in health care, I think.”

Pinnacle Health System does more major joint replacements than any other hospital in the state of Pennsylvania, treating more than 3,000 orthopedic patients each year and performing more than 1,800 joint procedures.

Pinnacle Health is one of two hospitals in Pennsylvania to receive certification in Spine Surgery from the Joint Commission, completing 1,200 spine surgeries each year.

The new unit is located on the seventh floor of the Alex Grass Medical Science Building and connects to Harrisburg Hospital via a walking bridge.

The new unit is part of Pinnacle Health’s “Vision 2017” plan that also includes an acute-care hospital being built in Hampden Township off Interstate 81.