Workers give new Wishard Hospital test runs

Workers at Wishard Hospital are practicing in replicas of the new hospital's rooms.
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The new Wishard Hospital - the city's biggest construction project since Lucas Oil Stadium and the new airport terminal - is one year from opening.

Eskenazi Hospital won't open for another year, yet nurses and other employees are already getting the feel of the new rooms, new medical equipment and a new way of caring for patients.

"You get used to everything. So when the patient comes in, nothing looks new to you, there are no surprises," said nursing assistant Chisom Ezeh.

Health care workers are training in exact replicas of the various rooms where they will care for patients. The beds, lighting, bathrooms and work stations are just like the real thing, because a patient suffering a heart attack can't wait for the nurse to find and outlet or a light switch.

"You really don't want that to happen. You want things to happen immediately and know where things are at when you are taking care of patients. It's critical," said Chief Nursing Officer Lee Ann Blue.

Blue has a daunting task of preparing 3,000 Wishard Hospital workers who, with hundreds of patients, will move into Eskenazi Hospital.

"So when we move in one day, one day we do it right," Blue said. "There is no room to do it wrong."

As the moving day gets closer, training will intensify. Employees will practice in the new hospital, under emergency situations.

"Where you have to go respond, bring the emergency equipment and rescue the patients from their situation, whether it is a mannequin, or whether it is an actor in the bed," said Amy Little, manager of clinical education.

Training in the replica hospital rooms is also helping prevent costly design mistakes or oversights.

The new hospital has 90 exam rooms. Workers tested it out thoroughly. The TV is in a good spot and the door works well, but the lighting controls? Not so good. Same with the sink and cabinet.

The designer thought it looked good, but workers say it's only an inch-and-a-half deep. They want a better one.

Identifying problems early, administrators say, is saving time and money now. Training workers, they believe, will save lives later.