Saint Alphonsus opens new specialty intensive care unit 

Alx Stevens//February 28, 2023

Saint Alphonsus opens new specialty intensive care unit 

Alx Stevens//February 28, 2023

Saint Alphonsus cut the ribbon Tuesday for its recently completed neuro, surgical and trauma intensive care unit (ICU).  

This brand-new ICU could be life-changing, hospital leadership said. 

Patients will no longer need to be moved from the unit, nor their rooms, for certain scans and tests. “The number-one risk to the patient is the handoff, the move,” Claire Jones, neurosciences service line leader said.  

Staff will be able to directly monitor patients 24/7 and therefore potentially catch serious condition changes — such as epileptic seizures — faster. 

Stakeholders cut the ribbon Feb. 28 for Saint Alphonsus’s new neuro, surgical and trauma intensive care unit. Photo courtesy of Saint Alphonsus

Specialists may be able to use their unique knowledge to catch otherwise challenging-to-diagnose ailments or provide more effective care to the “sickest of the sick” and the “most-critically injured.” 

“We’re trying to get sickest of the sick come to Saint Alphonsus and do what we can to keep the patient local,” said David McFadyen, president of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. “This unit is going to bring that together.” 

“This gives us the opportunity to practice the most critical care (and) (be attractive) to an enormous talent pool,” said Dr. Parker Fillmore, trauma medical director. “Now we can get good at giving best recovery we can.” 

With now nearly doubled capacity, Saint Alphonsus ICUs can take on more patients. 

“The number of trauma cases is growing as the population of the Treasure Valley and the region grows,” Dr. Rashna Ginwalla, trauma surgeon and co-medical director, said in a statement. “There’s a greater need for advanced specialized surgical critical care and this new unit provides that 24/7 support.”   

One of 18 acute care rooms in the new neuro and surgical trauma ICU at Saint Alphonsus. Photo courtesy of Saint Alphonsus

The ICU is scheduled to start receiving patients Wednesday. 

This multidisciplinary unit will not only increase the level of care for patients with state-of-the-art technology and specialized care, but it will also likely make the hospital more attractive to prospective employees, including those looking to develop specialized skillsets, and be potentially more desirable for patients and their families. 

“We don’t like the idea of having to send a patient to another institution because of something we can’t do,” said Dr. Spencer Craven, co-medical director and neuro intensivist. “The whole community will benefit because of this.” 

The technology 

The project includes a state-of-the-art mobile Computed Tomography (CT) scanner for diagnostic scanning in the patient rooms. This helps avoid patient transporting and the associated risks. 

“Anything can happen,” Craven said.  

Other technological features include fixed and portable Natus EEG brain monitoring system on ceiling booms to allow 360-degree access to ICU patients. These 24/7 cameras may help staff more immediately respond to seizures or catch the exact moment of change in a coma patient. Large interdisciplinary workstations allow staff to observe patients at all times. Additionally, portable EEG machines and monitors are able to be taken anywhere in the hospital for monitoring patients.

A nursing station in the new Saint Alphonsus neuro and surgical trauma ICU. Photo courtesy of Saint Alphonsus

“We’ve removed a lot of barriers to get something done,” Craven said. 

The design and construction 

The entire third floor south tower of the original hospital building had a gut remodel and new connectivity to other parts of the hospital added, including the other ICU area.  

Thirty-five patient rooms — 18 acute ICU rooms and 17 “step-down” (intermediate level of care) rooms — were created, and each of the 35 rooms is nearly 400 square feet, making them nearly as large as an operating room. These large rooms also have sleeper sofas for family members staying with the patient.

About 2,400 square feet of space was added to make the entire area approximately 37,500 square feet. 

Other features include patient beds in the center of the room, to allow for easier mobility for both the patient and staff. Each room has a private bathroom with sliding doors to also allow for easier mobility for the patient.  

The project took almost exactly two years to complete from its beginning March 2021. Andersen Construction Company of Boise was the contractor and Cushing Terrell, also of Boise, was the designer.  

All artwork throughout the unit is local to the area. 

“As the region’s most advanced level II trauma center and comprehensive stroke center, it only made sense for us to respond to the needs of our growing community by opening this new ICU,” McFadyen stated. “We are already the destination for neuro trauma care, and this unit puts the latest technology in the hands of our experts.”