VDMC opens new special care unit

A Special Care Unit opened in the Medical/Surgical Department of Van Diest Medical Center on Nov. 5, offering care for patients who need more intensive monitoring and assessment than the routine medical-surgical setting normally offers.

“We had patients who were being transferred to other facilities who could benefit from the closer monitoring the SCU provides,” said Michelle Stapp, emergency department, EMS and SCU director, “and we can safely provide that now without having to transfer them.”

However, patients who need urgent specialized care would still be transferred if it were determined to be in his or her best interest.

“If a patient would benefit from immediate intervention from a specialist or a specialized service, certainly we would then transfer them,” Stapp said.

There was a four-bed Special Care Unit at the former Hamilton Hospital that closed in 2007. After that closing, patients were transferred to other facilities.

“We had the ability to transfer patients easily, and that’s what was done, but we found a real need to care for some of those patients here,” Stapp said. “Transferring patients would sometimes put unnecessary burden on the patient and family when we can safely provide that care here.”

According to Stapp, the SCU will be open when necessary. With continuing education and training of current staff and hiring of new staff, 13 nurses will be able to work the emergency department, cardiac rehab and the SCU.

“They will have a lot of flexibility,” Stapp said.

Existing equipment will meet the current needs of the SCU, but as the services continue to expand, there may be a need for additional equipment, said Stapp.