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KGH Long Term Care Unit Christened With New Name


October 08, 2004

Ketchikan, Alaska - The Ketchikan General Hospital (KGH) Long Term Care Department has been renamed New Horizons Transitional Care Unit. The announcement was made at a ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication of the newly renovated unit Wednesday evening.

Though once considered a "nursing home" in the traditional sense, the department has shifted its focus to active rehabilitation with the goal of the patient returning home with as much independence as possible. This has led to shorter stays and more intensive services for an increasing proportion of patients.

A multi-purpose facility, New Horizons Transitional Care Unit will still function as a residence for some; and it will provide hospice facilities for the dying and their families. But for many patients, it will be a short-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility.

A contest for naming the new unit was held in hopes of finding just the right name to convey the varied services it provides. Jamie Easterly, a nurse in the Home Health and Wellness Department of the hospital, submitted the winning name.

Newly commissioned art works were also on display during the open house. The Ketchikan General Hospital's Art for Healing committee selected proposals from three artists. Ketchikan artist Sandy Shepard created a mosaic entitled "The Life Within". A watercolor triptych entitled "Taking the Leap" is a collaboration between local artists Adell Bruns & Marilyn Lee. A quilt titled "Home in the Woods" has been created by Annette Hansen (a former nurse in the department), and machine quilted by Jill Bennett. The committee purchased a button blanket by Haida artist Dorothy Grand, and a Native art print by Jeanne Gamble has been donated by Eagle Spirit Gallery.

Speakers for the event included: Patrick Branco, CEO, the Honorable Bob Weinstein, Mayor of Ketchikan; Stacy Schulz, MD, Medical Director of the Long Term Care Unit, John Hayward, PeaceHealth President, and a representative of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

During the Grand Opening, the public was able to visit all the areas and rooms because the patients and residents had not yet moved. Long Term Care employees were on hand to provide information about the facility and services available. The open house also featured refreshments and live jazz by the Kim Henrickson combo.

Renovation and expansion of Ketchikan General Hospital began in 1989 with the addition of a parking garage. In 1992, the State awarded Ketchikan money to complete Phase I of the project. During Phase I, the Emergency Department, Laboratory Department, Ambulatory Surgery Department were enlarged. A new lobby, admitting area and Quiet Room were created as well. Phase I was completed in 1994.

The next construction phase began in 1998. An election by Ketchikan voters approved a $10.7 million bond, which funded a new patient care wing, expanded the Radiology Department, Materials Management Department, kitchen and cafeteria. Most importantly, the project replaced the entire infrastructure of the hospital including boilers, heating and cooling systems, electrical and mechanical systems, and emergency generators.

The current renovation of the Long Term Care wing has been funded in a large part by the City of Ketchikan, which owns the hospital building and grounds. In addition to providing a much-needed facelift, this extensive remodel is aimed at addressing the needs of the changing patient population.

Long Term Care has traditionally cared for patients with chronic conditions and (mostly) irreversible losses in the ability to do the tasks of daily living. Consequently, the care was focused on maintaining whatever function the patient had left and providing a safe environment the traditional "nursing home" setting. For many reasons, over the last ten years the focus has shifted to active rehabilitation for the purpose of allowing the patient to return home with as much independence as possible. This has led to shorter stays and more intensive services for an increasing proportion of our patients.

Yet, there remains a core group of "residents" who continue to call the facility home because their care is too complicated to be provided elsewhere. And, new in this renovation is a hospice unit to provide end-of-life care to dying patients who require inpatient services but desire their families at their side.

The design of our remodeled space is an attempt to balance this variety of changing needs," said Michael Fitzgerald, nurse manager of the unit," allowing us to be a multi-purpose facility: a residence for a few, a hospice for some, and a short-term skilled nursing and/or rehab place for many."

Other events marking the grand re-opening included a sneak preview for employees on Monday, October 4th; a preview for physicians on Tuesday October 5th. A family dinner was held on Thursday the 7th to introduce residents and their loved ones to the new environment. On Friday, October 8th all senior citizens of the community are invited in for Senior Bingo. And on Monday, October 11th, volunteers in the "No One Dies Alone" program will be honored with an appreciation luncheon.



Source of News:

Ketchikan General Hospital
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