11. ‘Brand-new’ Facility Keeps Up with Technology
Diagnostic Imaging Supervisor Carmon Watson remembers that VacaValley Hospital felt like a full-service hotel when her department moved in. “We had a brand-new hospital, brand-new equipment, stylish colors, and were ready to serve. It was pretty slow at first, but that allowed the staff to get to know each other. We were able to treat patients as guests of our extended family.”
On opening day, there was a CAT Scan Suite, but no CAT Scanner. That was purchased by the NorthBay Guild a few months later. In 25 years the “A” was taken out of CAT Scan and it is now called a CT Scanner.
“The ‘A’ stood for axial,” explains Carmon, “and that doesn’t accurately describe the highly technical CT Spiral design anymore. CT exams that used to take over an hour or more can be done in five minutes or less. We can do so many exams now that used to have to be done invasively in surgery and would require a hospital stay.
“In 25 years, we have upgraded all of our equipment every few years to enable us to provide the best care in the market. We no longer have film processors or chemicals, we are completely digital. No view boxes. No x-ray file rooms.”
12. Joint Replacement Program Keeps Patients on the Move
Cynthia Giaquinto, R.N., (above) has been with NorthBay Healthcare in various capacities for 25 years, but only with VacaValley Hospital’s Joint Replacement Program as clinical manager since it opened in 2007. The program’s first full year was in 2008, when 97 patients were served. In 2011, that number increased to 130 patients a year, and the 2012 schedule should see 150 served.
“We no longer do elective joint replacement at NorthBay Medical Center,” explains Cynthia. “Instead, we have focused on building the best patient experience at VacaValley Hospital. That program includes having patients walk to ‘Lake Tahoe’ or ‘Yosemite’—posters in the hallways as part of their therapy. It also includes a “graduation” dinner with family and friends and staff, a real celebration.
“We have had no deep vein thrombosis or pneumonia since the start of the program,” says Cynthia proudly. “Our patient satisfaction is very high with many patients returning for second and third joint replacements and referring many family members.”
13. The Day the ICU Hosted a Wedding
ICU Nurse Mary Beth Wilkins has hundreds of special memories from her years at VacaValley, and she has a scrapbook to prove it, filled with thank you cards from patients and their families, photos of staff wedding and baby showers, postcards from doctors on vacation, and even newspaper clippings. She points to one letter to the editor that ran in The Reporter thanking VacaValley staff for allowing a special occasion to occur in the ICU in May 1995.
“The patient was supposed to be the best man in his brother’s wedding,” recalls Mary Beth, “but he had fallen ill. The family decided to bring the wedding to him, bride, groom, minister and all. Staff had the chance to be unofficial witnesses.”
14. Inmates Appreciated Pleasant Environment
One thing that took a little getting used to was the presence of inmates from California Medical Facility on the wing, says Dee Steggall, R.N. The facility was built with four special rooms on the west end, complete with reinforced windows and special cameras and monitors. Inmate patients required one guard when they were in these rooms, but two if they were in regular rooms. “I remember once having as many as 16 guards down the hall and it did get a little noisy. We never had a problem with the inmates, though,” says Dee. “They were actually quite happy to be in a pleasant environment where they were treated well and got good meals.”
15. A Lot Changed Since Unique Patient’s Surgery Began
NorthBay Hospital Group President Deborah Sugiyama remembers the story of an inmate who was accompanied to VacaValley Hospital by two correctional officers for a surgical procedure. During the surgery, she explains, he was suddenly released from his sentence. “If it was expected, they didn’t tell us. The guards didn’t even wait for him to come out of surgery, they just left.” She remembers staff expressing their concern: “Gee, he was such a bad guy when he came in here that he needed two guards, but now he isn’t?”