A high-tech, hybrid operating room is the cornerstone of the next phase of the $800 million expansion at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.
To test the design of the room — which will combine advanced and high-quality imaging technology with the latest surgical tools — a life-size model was built out of Styrofoam. Every doctor, nurse and technician who will work in the room had to take it for a test drive.
Although much thought went into the design, the tests made it possible to fine-tune it, said Dr. Jay Zwischenberger, UK HealthCare's surgeon-in-chief. "Surgeons bumped into cabinets and crashed into tables," he said. The information gathered in the tests allowed for changes so work in the operating room can be more efficient.
"We will have the finest operating facilities in the country by next fall," Dr. Bernard Boulanger, UK HealthCare surgical medical director, said Wednesday at a news conference announcing the first phase of the expansion was completed within budget and on schedule.
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The initial part of the next phase will include eight operating rooms and a specialized hybrid operating room. The rooms will cost about $35 million, said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. Completion is expected in November.
UK will not be gaining any operating rooms once the project is completed, because some older rooms will be closed, Karpf said.
The second phase ultimately will include 600,000 square feet and is estimated to cost $250 million to $300 million.
The advantages of a hybrid operating room are numerous. The other new operating rooms will have about 600 square feet, but the 1,000-square-foot hybrid will include a robotic arm that looks much like the ones used at Toyota to make cars, Boulanger said. The arm will allow doctors to take myriad images of a patient without having to move them.
The hybrid room costs about $3.2 million compared with a standard operating room's $1 million, according to UK HealthCare. It initially will focus on cardiothoracic and vascular surgeries, said Zwischenberger.
Not only will common heart surgeries, such as insertion of stints, be performed more effectively in the hybrid room, the state-of-the-art technology better allows doctors to deal with complications that can arise out of complex heart surgeries.
But Boulanger said he expects the hybrid to be used "every day, most of the day."
As construction moves forward in the second phase, additional parts of the first phase are preparing to open. Public areas on the ground floor and first floor, and two patient-care floors will open May 22. The emergency department and a new parking garage opened last year. The project cost roughly $532 million, Karpf said.
In the new hospital, trauma patients will be moved more efficiently from the heliport to the emergency department and operating rooms through a central transportation system.
Overall, once all phases of construction are completed in six to 10 years, the 1.2-million-square-foot complex will be able to support patient care for 100 years.
Between the medical center and the College of Medicine, there have been 3,000 full-time jobs added since 2004, Karpf said. That number includes 30 surgeons and about 1,000 nurses. Recruiting one top-notch researcher can lead to the addition of dozens of jobs. For example Dr. B. Mark Evers, who became director of the Markey Cancer Center in 2000, brought with him eight investigators and more than 30 medical technicians, Karpf said.