The UK Markey Cancer Center on Friday unveiled its new inpatient floor on the 11th floor of the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital Pavilion A. The state-of-the-art facility will allow the care teams at Markey to treat more patients with complex cancer diagnoses in an environment specifically designed for healing.
The new floor has a unit in each tower: Tower 100 houses the James and Gay Hardymon Patient Care Unit, a 31-bed unit for medical and surgical oncology patients. Tower 200 is home to the Darley Blood and Marrow Transplantation Unit, a 32-bed unit for bone marrow transplant and patients with blood cancers. Between the two units, eight total new cancer inpatient beds have been added.
“For more than 30 years, Markey has been providing exceptional cancer care to the citizens of Kentucky, and our patient volume has increased dramatically in the past several years,” said Markey Director Dr. Mark Evers. “This is the first time we’ve been able to expand clinical care into new space. We are thrilled to open up this state-of-the-art facility for our inpatients, which has been specifically designed to cater to the needs of our patients and staff alike.”
Comfortable and functional
The new rooms are substantially larger in size than those on the previous Markey inpatient floors: All patient rooms in Pavilion A are private and nearly 300 square feet in size. Large windows provide natural light and outdoor views, an important factor for patients who may require lengthy inpatient stays for complex cancers.
“Some of our patients may stay between 20 and 40 days as an inpatient,” said Dr. Gerhard Hildebrandt, division chief of hematology and blood and marrow transplant for Markey. “The new floor lets patients feel more at home. If you’re away from your family and you undergo such aggressive treatment, it’s important that you have an environment where you feel very comfortable.”
The new floor was designed with functionality in mind: Markey’s highly trained and experienced nursing staff gave input on the layout of the floor based on their personal experiences and feedback from their patients. Each patient room is equipped with a nurse work station right outside the door, minimizing time spent away from the patient’s bedside.
“Our nurses are with these patients 24 hours a day, so they truly are the backbone of inpatient care,” said Colleen Swartz, UK HealthCare’s chief nurse executive and chief administrative officer. “Their recommendations for the creation of this floor were invaluable and have allowed us make Markey’s already stellar quality of care even more patient- and family-centered.”
The floor is also set up to facilitate the multidisciplinary approach to care, with extra spaces allowing for specialists and team members from a wide variety of areas to meet and discuss each individual patient as a team.
“Our nursing staff – who are exceptional in understanding what these patients are facing – will work with numerous specialties to ensure multidisciplinary care,” said Dr. Lowell Anthony, division chief of medical oncology at Markey. “Bringing it together is what it’s really about. Good communication among all parties creates an environment where we can heal our patients more efficiently and get them home quickly.”
Patients on the new floor will have access to both oncology rehabilitation and integrative medicine services, including pet therapy, art therapy, music therapy, narrative medicine and much more. Additionally, the two units have features unique to Pavilion A, catering to the specific needs of cancer patients who require an inpatient stay:
- The family suite, a hotel-style room that is connected to a patient room, allowing loved ones to literally live right next door to the patient throughout their stay. This room can be booked for a nominal fee.
- The Family Comfort Center, a living room-style space designed by Markey patients that provides an area for families to gather, talk and take a break from the clinical space.
- The business center, a quiet space that houses four workstations and two private offices for patients or loved ones to keep up with work or other responsibilities during their stay.
- Concierge kitchen, opening in spring 2018, featuring an on-call chef who will offer meals that are beneficial to oncology patients and allow them access to healthy snacks and smoothies throughout the day. Additionally, two family kitchens are available for patients and their family members to prepare their own meals.
- Several lead-lined patient rooms allowing for certain radiation procedures to be safely performed without the need to transport the patient to another location.
- Laundry facilities for patient and family use.
Since receiving a National Cancer Institute designation in 2013, Markey has grown tremendously with around 3,300 inpatient visits a year. Overall analytic cancer cases are up 34 percent in the past five years. And in just the past three years, bone marrow transplants have increased from 80-85 performed each year to more than 110 in the past year.
“Having an NCI-designated cancer center allows patients across the whole state to have access to the very best, and Markey is a destination for people who need complex care,” said Dr. Mark Newman, executive vice president for health affairs. “With the new Markey inpatient floor, we’re trying to create the kind of environment where people can come, receive treatment and heal. It’s an environment where both the family and the patient can feel very hopeful about the potential outcomes of their treatments.”
‘A higher level of care’
Although the physical space is brand new, the most critical component of cancer care remains the same: the faculty and staff.
Markey patient Sarah Lister was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in early 2016 and spent more than four months combined as an inpatient at Markey under the care of Hildebrandt, ultimately receiving a bone marrow transplant.
She notes that for incoming patients, the new floor provides a warm, welcoming environment full of light and artwork, complementing the already stellar medical care patients can expect to receive.
“The bricks and mortar are not the most essential thing,” Lister said. “Because the staff is key – it’s the people that are the healing, the medicine comes first. But when you’re bringing all those people into this beautiful new space, I think you’re aiming for a higher level of care. This space is honoring the good work that goes on here.”
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