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Lori Bush: Behind the Scenes at Wake Med

Cary, NC – Just before Thanksgiving, At-Large Councilman Ed Yerha and I were treated to a unique experience — a behind-the-scenes tour of WakeMed Cary located at the corner of Tryon and Kildaire Farm Road. (Take aVirtual Tour!)

I’ve had the opportunity to visit WakeMed before, as both a patient and visitor when my kids needed to check out the Emergency Room. I’ve always been impressed with their quality of service and the care that each and every employee shows the patients and visitors. And I’ve seen the hospital grow from a relatively small facility 20 years ago to one that is now expanded out and UP, and serving so much of our Cary community.

The Tour

Our tour began with one of my favorite topics – technology! This time, the technology is being used in Healthcare.

We visited the new eICU area in the hospital. We have all seen Intensive Care Units (ICUs) before, on TV or in the movies, or maybe up close and personal. But this ICU was different, in a good way.

It looked like a normal ICU, with all of the vital signs of the patient able to be seen and managed by a critical care nurse or doctor, but that information was ALSO being sent to a “second pair of eyes” offsite.  This is where ANOTHER set of critical care providers were watching and assisting the hospital staff.

Inside of the patient room they installed high-resolution cameras – able to zoom-in to even read the text off of a wrist cuff; and microphones and speakers – to be able to converse with staff or the patient.

This technology assists the doctors and patients, where the offsite personnel can watch for trends in the patient’s condition and to catch issues proactively and before they become too serious.

I was told it’s been used in the U.S. for 12 years, and has been shown to reduce the length of time a patient is in the hospital by 25-35%, and also improves a critically ill patient’s chance of survival by an average of 28%.

Robotic Surgery

Yes, that’s right. We went to suit up in our“bunny suits” for a visit to the Surgical suite. Here’s where we got a chance to see and touch something that I have ONLY seen on TV – a robotic surgical machine, called da vinci, that does minimally invasive surgery on a state-of-the-art robotic platform. The idea behind this system is that the less invasive the surgery, the less post surgical pain, less blood loss, and shorter recovery time a patient will have.

But besides that, it was just cool. The surgeon (ok, me in this case) sat down to a console that gave me a 3-D image in 10 times resolution, of the field. (You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?) I reached into the console, and using 2 fingers on each hand, was able to have a full range of movement that was replicated exactly by the robotic arms. The movements were so precise, I could pick up a rubber band (the size of a orthodontic rubber band, think the size of the top of a push pin) and move it to another location. The dexterity was amazing. It was like a video game, but in real life.

Now, I can see a whole new career path for our kids that play XBox and other video games. In fact, when I mentioned that, one of the nurses said that they have found that when kids (read “gamers”) use this robot, they are extremely agile at it. In fact, a study from the University of Texas found that the surgical skills of high school students (who play video games approx. 2 hours a day) “were found to be equal to the UMTB physicians, and in some cases, even exceeded the skills of the residents.”

Where the Babies Are

After that fun, we headed down to the Women’s Pavilion and Birthplace. Another beautiful area of the hospital, with private suites that let the families be together. We were surprised to learn so many new factoids there, as well.

  •  – Midwife supported births occur at the hospital, so that women can choose their delivery support team
  •  – Approximately 2400 babies are born at WakeMed Cary every year – with a new baby born every 4-5 hours
  •  – At WakeMed Raleigh, a NEW KINDERGARTEN CLASS is born EVERY DAY. Wow!
  •  – Skin-to-Skin is a program implemented that helps with newborn bonding and the baby’s brain development, steadies the mom and baby breathing and heart rate. The babies are placed right away on their moms so that they can bond right away.
  •  – Moms choosing breast milk for their children at WakeMed is on the rise, with almost 85% of mom’s choosing to breastfeed

Our Community Hospital

I was truly impressed with my tour, and even though we saw just a small part of the Hospital, it was good to see a place like this that does so much for our community.   Did you know that 85% of the WakeMed Cary patients are served from within a 5 mile (or so) radius – so this hospital is  truly serving our Cary community, and beyond.

Did You Know?

There’s an app for that. Yep, there is an app for WakeMed Health and Hospitals. It’s FREE! You can download it and see their locations, wait times at the various Emergency departments and more. (You can also get that information online.)As always, feel free to contact me with comments, questions and concerns.