Phase one of CRMC surgical expansion nearly complete

CROSBY - A green glow bathed the operating room and a large screen monitor displayed a surgical scalpel cutting through tissue to remove a gall bladder.

Overhead screens provide a view of procedures for all involved in the operating room. Images can also be shared with consulting doctors who are in other areas of the hospital. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch
Overhead screens provide a view of procedures for all involved in the operating room. Images can also be shared with consulting doctors who are in other areas of the hospital. Renee Richardson/Brainerd Dispatch

CROSBY - A green glow bathed the operating room and a large screen monitor displayed a surgical scalpel cutting through tissue to remove a gall bladder.

The green light is one of the technology upgrades with a surgical center expansion at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby. The first phase of the $13 million Cuyuna Regional Medical Center surgical expansion opens this February. A Tuesday open house gave visitors a look at the investments in technology and the transformation of what was largely cold storage into surgical space.

The green glow means high-definition images are even more clear for endoscopy procedures - previously done with the lights off to give physicians the best viewing of images - and anesthetists and ancillary staff now also have light for their work.

In operating room seven, one of five operating rooms opening with the new surgical center, software integration allows equipment to interact. A physician can speak through a headset using a voice command to activate the light source on video equipment. High definition images on flat-screen monitors - displayed in various positions in the room - giving everyone in the operating room a view of what is happening. And not just the medical staff present in the OR. Images can be shared in real time with physicians in other parts of the hospital or at remote sites, meaning a patient under anesthesia isn't waiting for a doctor to come from a clinic and scrub in order to benefit from a consultation. The consulting doctor will also have the ability to annotate - add notes or diagrams.

The surgery center includes an eye procedure room and six eye recovery bays. It has a registration and waiting area along with private consultation rooms and offices. There are three endoscopy procedure rooms with six recovery rooms along and multiple recovery beds for post-anesthesia care.


Peggy Forstner, registered nurse in the OR, said the expansion means the hospital will go from four operating rooms to seven. Forstner said the additional space on many levels from pre- to post-procedures is significant for patients, families and employees.

In 2006, CRMC added the shell for the lower-level expansion project. Construction began Feb. 3, 2014. The entire project, including phase two creating a surgery clinic space not far from the main floor entrance, is expected to be completed in July. The surgical clinic will be in the current operating area and will in turn free space for primary care needs.

The surgery clinic will encompass 19,000 square feet with a 2,000-square-foot laboratory, digital X-ray room and orthopaedic area with seven exam rooms along with a procedure room and five offices. The surgical speciality clinic will have 24 exam rooms, four procedure rooms and multiple offices and a conference room. It's entrance will be next to the waterfall behind the main entrance reception area.

The lower level surgery center, opening this winter, covers 33,000 square feet. Technology in new operating room allows nurses to work on charts and be able to change what is displayed on the monitors for the physician seamlessly without logging in and out of applications. Doctors will be able to use the annotations like a football telestrator to show people just what a procedure will do or help explain what was accomplished in the OR replacing freehand drawings on a piece of paper.

In the OR, Eileen Kurpiers, nurse anesthetist, demonstrated an intubation on a SimMan, or simulated patient so complex its tongue can swell and it can be used to practice intravenous therapy as medical students learn. It can verbally convey symptoms. Other simulated patients provide realistic training. A simulated male can describe symptoms when prompted with questions, simulates breathing, facial expressions and a host of medical conditions. He even sweats. The simulated man has a price tag of $100,000. Slightly less expensive, with fewer facial abilities but able to speak in 10 languages is a simulated female who provides students with the ability to interact with a woman who is in labor. The complex and computerized simulated patients provide multiple options for training and gives new nurses a chance to react to complications before potentially facing them with people.

As far as technology, Kurpiers said one of the notable changes for her is the ability to take a tablet out to the patient's family and show them just what a procedure found, what was accomplished and how.

"I think that piece is going to be really important to the patient, to the family," Kurpiers said.

Anne Hanzel, surgical services administrator, said the expanded space is huge compared to what CRMC has now.


Dr. Fawn Atchison said the expansion and larger spaces will improve the patient experience. But Atchison said she was struck by something that may have seemed like a small change - mobile health stations. Expanded space for patients is providing room for a chair and the mobile health station so a nurse or doctor can sit and talk to the patient face-to-face, instead of facing a wall-mounted station.

"I think that's really going to improve the interaction," Atchison said. "We want to provide a more personal touch."

Sometimes, Atchison said, technology can get in the way of providing a more personal touch and even this small change will make a positive difference.

The seven new operating rooms in the lower level will expand CRMC's surgery capacity by 45 percent, the medical center reported.

By the numbers

• 7 - the number of operating rooms in the surgery center, three endoscopy procedure rooms, six endoscopy recovery rooms, eye procedure room with six recovery bays, two private consultation rooms. There are also seven post-anesthesia care unit recovery beds.

• 13 - the number of millions invested in the phased project, which began on Feb. 3, 2014, and is slated to be completed in July. Phase 1 - the surgery center - is expected to open this February. Phase 2 - the surgery clinic - is expected to open this summer.

• 24 - the exam rooms with the surgical specialities clinic opening in 19,000 square feet.


• 35 - prime contractors worked on the project with construction manager Nor-Son.

• 50 - the number of workers daily for the expansion project.

• 33,000 - additional square feet added with the surgery center. The surgery center begins at the base of the grand staircase. It's on the walkway accessed at the main entrance that leads to the chapel and the staircase.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or . Follow on Twitter at .

Related Topics: HEALTH
Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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