UCHealth Longs Peak Hospital doubled its intensive care unit and added state-of-the-art technology to better serve Longmont residents — thanks to community donors, including doctors and nurses.
In an interview Monday at the new expanded ICU unit, Longs Peak President Lonnie Cramer said the hospital was built with expansion in mind and now offers 12 ICU units to accommodate the community better. In 2017, when the hospital opened, it had done so with only six ICU beds, but had planned to build additional units as the population grew.
Cramer also noted that this expansion was in the works prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the units were designed to prevent the spread of infection with specialized enclosed glass doors instead of curtains.
“Our ICU has been one of our highest needs — and with the pandemic, we tailored designs already pre-conceptualized designs to really focus around respiratory diseases and preventing infection spread,” Cramer said Monday. He also said the hospital noticed a need for more critical care capacity, technologies, equipment and ventilators shortly after opening in 2017.
On Tuesday, the six new ICU beds will open with state-of-the-art technology to help with patient care. One new update is the ICU boom, which includes medical devices typically attached to walls or pillars and is capable of following patients around their rooms, such as to a restroom, without having to be unhooked by nursing staff. It also includes monitoring devices, medicine drip lines and ventilators.
Cramer said this added mobility for patients will help with restorative care, to be able to move patients more quickly out of ICU beds and back on the road to recovery.
The hospital also updated the ICU beds to help prevent an assortment of side effects from being hospitalized, such as bed sores.
Natalie Willis, Longs Peak nursing manager, said in an interview Monday that the most critical component about the updated ICU units is the “Virtual ICU ball.” It’s more than just a camera as it can monitor a patient’s vitals, movements and track data critical for doctors and nurses to determine if a patient needs a different course of care, and can help hospital staff to identify if a patient needs immediate medical attention.
“These upgrades, including the consultation room, will go a long way to keep residents locally and to allow their families to be closer — that’s what we are most excited about,” Willis said.
She also noted that the new ICU upgrade is fully staffed with ICU nurses and ready to see its first patients. “We have been training our new nurses since November, so they are ready to go. Each nurse will have about two to three patients a shift, and we have about six nurses per shift,” Willis added.
Longs Peak spokeswoman Kelly Tracer said the contributions for this upgrade came from donations made to the Longs Peak Hospital Foundation’s ICU Campaign. “Contributions to the campaign have and will continue to be used to support purchases that enhance the care and experience for patients in the ICU as well as ongoing innovation,” Tracer added. She also said that much of the donations came from Longs Peak doctors, nurses and other hospital staff.
“We are just so excited to open this new (ICU) unit and really serve our community better,” Willis said.
Cramer added, “I would just like to say that we’re just excited to continue to provide that extraordinary care that we can now offer to more, closer to home.” He also said the new technology will help hospital staff hone in patient care and, it is hoped, prevent more serious conditions.
“We are just really committed to continuing to meet the needs of the community, which is very important to us because we want Longmont to remain healthy,” Tracer said.
Longs Peak is at 1750 E. Ken Pratt Blvd. More information about the hospital and its services — including COVID-19 vaccination information — can be found on its website at https://www.uchealth.org/locations/uchealth-longs-peak-hospital/.