Mary-Jane Mattone watched her young patients on the toddler unit — “our angels on the bay,” she calls them — delightedly take in their surroundings in the newly opened patient pavilion that overlooks Little Neck Bay in Bayside, Queens.
“It was an atmosphere of joy for all the children and a very special day for our nurses,” said Mattone, LPN, recalling the day in late fall that patients, nurses and staff officially moved into the new St. Marys Healthcare System for Children facility. “There were squeals of excitement from the children.” Many shouted “Where is my room?” she said.
According to a St. Marys news release, the facility has been operating in overcrowded 1950s-era facilities, with patients living four or five to a room.
Rona Schlau, RN, MSN, assistant vice president and CNO of St. Marys, said the $114 million upgrade will enable the facility to become one of the most technologically advanced of its kind in the region and help meet the evolving needs of children with complex medical needs across the area. Schlau said the facility was designed in consultation with clinical teams and “will provide a total healing environment, expected to significantly reduce patient stress and improve healing outcomes.”
State of the art
The new facility boasts enhanced delivery of patient care.
“Based on best practices and evidence-based research, all four floors are designed the same, which enables nurses new to a floor to be familiar with the layout, optimizing efficient, safe care and reducing medical errors,” Schlau said, adding that patients now will live two to a room, with a view of the bay.
Mattone has been at St. Marys for 23 years and has seen many changes. She was thrilled with the latest innovative improvements, including how new technology will enhance connections among nurses, staff and patients.Vivian Feng, RN
“Communication is markedly improved by our use of a voice-activated device badge that allows individuals or groups to communicate,” Mattone said.
The badge is worn around the neck or clipped to clothing and has an earpiece and microphone attached. It works wherever a wireless network is available and recognizes speech patterns.
“A transmitted call goes directly to the specific caregiver needed, eliminating time-consuming forwarding of calls and allowing nurses to spend more time with the patient,” said Vivian Feng, RN, a staff nurse on the adolescent unit.
In the rehab area, newly acquired equipment includes robotic exoskeleton machinery, which helps children with traumatic brain injuries and other neurological problems stay mobile and exercise rarely-used muscles.
A Nintendo Wii room and flat-screen computers at every bedside will help children with TBIs learn cognitive and physical skills while providing interactive entertainment. “An exciting new development is the opportunity to utilize Skype, which enables patients to talk with parents, extended families and even relatives in other countries,” Feng said.
Patient neighborhoods provide a home-like environment that blends a childrens hospital with home amenities.
“We have a north neighborhood and a south neighborhood, with a recreation room in the center, and each neighborhood has its own kitchen and dining room,” Feng said.
There are also music and art therapy rooms, a horticultural garden and a putting green. The rehabilitation wing combines indoor and outdoor space designed to accommodate multiple modalities of therapy. The contiguous outdoor space includes play areas that focus on different therapeutic goals designed to promote community reintegration, complete with sidewalks, a bus stop and road signs.
Maryanne E. Bezyack, RN, MSN, CPNP, is a freelance writer.