Washington Regional Launches Area's First Neurosurgical ICU



FAYETTEVILLE -- Washington Regional recently opened Northwest Arkansas' first neurosurgical intensive care unit, with 20 beds to serve patients who are recovering from surgery due to a spinal cord injury, brain injury, neurological illness such as epilepsy or brain event such as stroke.

With the Neurosurgical ICU, Washington Regional has made a commitment to provide a level of complex care not available elsewhere in the region according to Mark Bever, Executive Vice President and Administrator at Washington Regional Medical Center.

Kasha Pinkerton, BSN, RN, SCRN, nursing manager of the Neurosurgical ICU, says patients receive highly skilled care from an interdisciplinary team comprised of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians and pharmacists. Care team physicians include specialists with advanced training in neurosurgery, stroke neurology, intensivist medicine and interventional neuroradiology. Along with specialized skills, it requires a holistic approach involving all areas to provide optimal care for neurosurgical patients, Pinkerton says. Nurses in the Neurosurgical ICU are specially trained in techniques for examining the brain and central nervous system. When caring for patients after neurological surgery, it's important to be aware of intracranial pressure and how the brain controls blood flow. This patient population is very delicate and requires constant monitoring Pinkerton says.

In addition to the specialized medical equipment typically found in an intensive care unit - such as ventilators and cardiac telemetry machines - the Neurosurgical ICU also provides advanced neurological tools such as continuous electroencephalography, a non-invasive method of monitoring and recording electrical activity of the brain. The nursing unit has a dedicated waiting area for visitors and also features dimmable lights in all patient care areas, specialized ceiling-mounted patient lifts for turning and repositioning patients, bedside monitors and a nurse call system that helps to identify patients with certain risk factors. A work room ensures patient privacy by providing space for physicians to dictate notes and review charts.

Located on the hospital's first floor, the Neurosurgical ICU is the first new service made possible by Washington Regional's current Core Renewal Project, which will also include expansions to cardiovascular services and the laboratory.