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Last updated: February 27. 2013 11:59PM - 3403 Views
By ANDREW M. SEDER



John Zelonis of Geisinger Administration gives a tour of the newly finished 5th floor PCU in Geisingers critical care center. AIMEE DILGER /THE TIMES LEADER 2/27/2013
John Zelonis of Geisinger Administration gives a tour of the newly finished 5th floor PCU in Geisingers critical care center. AIMEE DILGER /THE TIMES LEADER 2/27/2013
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PLAINS TWP. — When the five-floor Critical Care Building opened at Geisinger Wyoming Valley in 2008, officials knew the fifth floor eventually would be needed. But for what was unclear, until this week.


Doctors, administrators and staffers took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday to mark the official unveiling of the 24-bed, 24,000-square-foot, $9.5 million Progressive Care Unit. The first patients, who typically don’t rise to the level of requiring Intensive Care Unit attention, will be housed there starting Monday.


The addition will replace the current 13-bed Progressive Care Unit housed in another part of the hospital that will be used for other needs, said John Buckley, the chief administrative officer for Geisinger Northeast. And he said that even as the latest expansion project is complete, others are being planned.


“We’ll be looking at expanding the operating room, expanding the emergency room,” Buckley said. But this week, the attention was bring paid to the fifth-floor project.


Each room includes cameras and monitors for two-way communication with doctors, electronic monitoring of patients’ vitals, a large private bathroom with shower, a sleeper sofa for family members who wish to stay and a flat-screen television. Two rooms are outfitted to care for infectious isolation patients. And two rooms are fitted with bariatric lifts to assist staff members with lifting severely obese patients, which Buckley said is a situation arising more often.


“In Northeast Pennsylvania, we recognize patients are not as healthy as they should be,” Buckley said, adding that this feature benefits the patients and the staff members.


The nearly doubling of space for the unit also will mean nearly doubling the number of people employed to staff the floor. Plans call for the hiring of 82 people in the next year and an additional 44 by 2017. This includes nurses, aides, physical therapists and respiratory therapists.


Dr. Steven Pierdon, the executive vice president and chief medical officer for Geisinger Northeast, lauded the expansion and said it’s “further evidence of Geisinger’s commitment to providing Luzerne County residents high-level, high-quality care close to home.”


But Buckley noted that since the facility’s emergency room became a level-one trauma center in 2008, the number of patients seen in it each year has doubled, and about 25 percent of those seeking treatment are residents of another county.


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