GHS unveils first phase of new intensive care unit

Greenville Health System (GHS) hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony today to celebrate completion of the first phase of its new intensive care unit (ICU) at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

The 75,000 square foot ICU is undergoing a $32 million renovation to meet patient care needs and accommodate new technologies. Once complete, the unit will feature 15 new rooms, 46 renovated rooms and 56 existing rooms, bringing the total number of adult ICU beds at Greenville Memorial to 117. The new and renovated rooms will each be outfitted with a medical boom and patient lift to assist staff in adapting the clinical environment to meet the unique needs of each patient.

“As a tertiary referral center, Greenville Memorial provides highly specialized care to patients who suffer from a serious injury or illness,” said Paul Johnson, president of the Greenville Memorial Medical Campus. “The newly remodeled ICU will allow us to continue delivering the high quality care we’re known for but in a more spacious and high-tech environment.”

The renovation incorporates a number of evidence-based design elements proven to enhance outcomes, including a unique feature called borrowed light, which is used to filter natural light into inner rooms. Studies show that incorporating natural light into the healthcare environment can enhance mood, increase alertness, decrease fatigue and reduce stress.

Additionally, walls were painted shades of yellow and blue because research suggests that patients who suffer from head injuries and neurological issues are less likely to experience seizures when surrounded by soothing colors. Early mobility has also been shown to improve outcomes, so ceiling lifts were installed in new and renovated rooms to assist staff in getting patients in and out of bed. And since family support is an integral part of the healing process, rooms were expanded to give families more space at the bedside.

“Patients and families are the focus of everything we do,” said Catherine Chang, MD, chief medical officer for the Greenville Memorial Medical Campus. “These design elements may seem small in nature, but they are actually very significant because – aside from delivering high quality, specialized care – family support and a soothing environment are both key to a patient’s recovery.”

The renovated ICU is made up of three subunits: medical/surgical, neuro and trauma. The medical/surgical unit treats patients with serious illnesses and those requiring intensive care after surgery. The neuro and trauma units, which opened today as part of the first phase of the renovation, treat patients who have suffered a stroke, head bleed or other traumatic injury. These two units have nearly doubled in size due to increased trauma volume and the hospital’s certified stroke center.

According to the National Trauma Institute, trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans between 1 and 46 years old and accounts for more deaths in this population than heart disease and cancer combined. At Greenville Memorial, clinicians have seen a 20 percent increase in trauma cases over the past five years, with some patients coming from as far away as northwestern North Carolina and northeastern Georgia to receive care.

“As a Level 1 trauma center, we see everything. The most common injury we see is blunt trauma from motor vehicle collisions and falls,” said Benjamin Manning, MD, division chief of trauma for GHS. “Strokes are also common. In fact, last year alone we admitted more than 1,000 stroke cases, and several hundred more patients received outpatient stroke care.”

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans with the highest death rates occurring in the southeast. As a certified stroke center, Greenville Memorial has neurologists and neurosurgeons available around-the-clock to treat patients. These physicians also operate a telemedicine program called NeuroDirect that allows them to work remotely with neighboring hospitals to ensure proper life-saving measures are in place.

“With South Carolina being in the stroke belt, we experience greater-than-average rates of obesity, cigarette smoking and high blood pressure, which all contribute to increased risk of stroke,” said Dr. Manning. “The good news is that this renovation ensures stroke and trauma patients continue to receive the highest quality care in a state-of-the-art environment with nurses and physicians specialized in their care.”

The final phase of the renovation is slated to be done by June 2017. Because the ICU and surrounding areas will remain operational during renovation, the hospital has established a Construction Satisfaction Team to monitor and measure patient care and satisfaction during the renovation. The team, made up of a clinical project manager, clinical director and infection preventionist, regularly round on departments and waiting areas to observe and correct any potential disruptions in care. The team also ensures maps, signage and contact information is visible and readily available.

About Greenville Health System
Greenville Health System (GHS) — an academic health system that is the largest not-for-profit healthcare delivery system in South Carolina — is committed to medical excellence through research, patient care and education. GHS offers patients an innovative network of clinical integration, expertise and technologies through its eight medical campuses, tertiary medical center, research and education facilities, community hospitals, physician practices and numerous specialty services throughout the Upstate. The 1,358-bed system is home to 15 medical residency and fellowship programs. GHS is also home to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, a joint effort of USC and GHS. Visit for more information.

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