by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — The second floor at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has a chance to shine once again.
The floor has been repurposed to serve as the hospital's medical-surgical unit, with a focus on putting patient needs ahead of everything else, something which may seem like a given but sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of major medical institutions.
"This unit was designed with patient and family centered care as the overriding concept," NFMMC President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Ruffolo said. "This is a care model that requires healthcare professionals share complete information with patients and families. In turn, it builds on the strength of patients and families to enhance independence and facilitate patient healing."
Located on the hospital's S-2 wing of its Schoellkopf Building, 621 10th St., the new wing, which cost $1.5 million, offers 24 private rooms for patients and a computerized family room – a feature lauded by many of the hospital's leadership – to give support and knowledge to family members and patients alike.
The idea, according to the hospital's Chief Operating Officer Sheila Kee, is to follow through on the core mission of patient-centered care. The hospital must allow the patients and the families to know exactly what's happening, she said.
"In patient-centered care, the family members need to know what the disease or diagnosis is," she said. "So we wanted to give them a place to learn about what is happening around them. The computers are hooked up to the Internet for them to research and we have an extensive library for them."
These rooms replace the hospital's 30-year-old facility on the third floor.
Renovating the wing which used to house a child psychiatry ward also included some major improvements to how patients will experience the hospital. Construction used sound absorbent materials to help keep noise to as low as possible, while the floor also features soft lighting, designed to provide a more relaxed environment.
The unit also includes two nurses stations, which Kee said will improve patient contact with the professionals who are responsible for their care. Increased contact, she said, leads to more success stories.
"We wanted to shorten the distance the nurses had to travel to get to their patients," she said. "This way, the nurses can see more patients in a day. And this results in better care."
Though furniture and equipment for the 24 rooms and the two nurses stations aren't expected to be available until Monday at the earliest, according to Kee, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing of the new space was held Wednesday featuring Niagara University President the Rev. Joseph Levesque, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Robert Gioia, president and CEO of The John R. Oshei Foundation, along with other representatives from the health care community.
James Roscetti, chairman of the NFMMC board of directors, said he and the rest of the board are excited to see how the renovated unit pushes the hospital forward into the future.
"When I look back, I see how much we've done in the last 10 years," Roscetti said. "It seems like it should have taken decades to do. But it's pretty impressive because when I came on, we were ready to close."