Sneaking a peek at the future of medicine: Visitors get early look inside the new Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center |

Sneaking a peek at the future of medicine: Visitors get early look inside the new Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center

Jarid Shipley

Brad Horn / Tribune News Service / Richard Mortensen, of Zephyr Cove, looks into the $2 million General Electric MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center during an open house Saturday. Mortensen said that because of a benign brain tumor, he's had several MRIs during the past six months. At left is Casey Reid, 10, of Carson City.

CARSON CITY – For the more than 7,000 people who took the opportunity to see the new Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center Saturday, it wasn’t the advanced communication systems or the private rooms that dominated the conversation.

It was the views.

“The reaction from people is amazement. They are walking around the building and they are just pleased and overwhelmed,” said Pete Livermore, trustee on the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Board.

Mary Stuchell was among those who took the opportunity to view the building before it goes into operation Dec. 3. But her tour was about more than just seeing the new building, it was a chance to catch up with old friends.

Stuchell worked as a nurse at the original hospital, located at 775 Fleichmann Way, from 1971 until she retired in 1996.

“The old hospital was pretty new when I started and I got to see the second floor being constructed, but when I left we had pretty much grown as much as we could,” said Stuchell.

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Walking through the new building, she couldn’t help but notice the startling changes from the hospital she knew, including drastic changes to the emergency room.

“The rooms weren’t very big and we were always moving furniture at the old hospital and we had trouble getting beds in and out of the doors, so this a huge improvement,” she said.

The new emergency department features 18 rooms in addition to six minor-care rooms and offers bedside registration, allowing patients to get a bed before completing paperwork. The department also has a dedicated entrance for ambulance traffic and a separate waiting area for contagious patients.

“When I first started we didn’t have doctors in the emergency room, you were the only one on and if there was more than one patient at once, you called for assistance from other departments,” Stuchell recalled.

Another innovative design feature is removal of most equipment from the floor, including IV poles in the emergency room and surgical utensils in the operating rooms.

“They have the IV poles hanging too,” Stuchell commented. “Do you know how many people used to get knocked in the head by those poles?”

The building is designed around the idea that patients need to recover mentally as well as physically, so the gauges and tubes in patient rooms are hidden using cabinets and each room has large windows to allow sunlight in and give patients pleasing and calming views, according to marketing assistant Libby Bates.

The new hospital has 144 beds, 138 private rooms and six semi-private rooms, up from 103 licensed beds in the current hospital. The new hospital also has eight specially designed pediatric rooms including a bathtub, microwave and a place for mom, dad and child to stay in the same room.

“That was always a problem, I could never figure out how people could sleep in those chairs,” Stuchell said.

The entire hospital is wireless, allowing nurses to use laptops to do charts that are still connected to the network. The hospital also incorporates a system called Vocera, that allows any member of the staff to find the approximate location of anyone on the system and also talk directly to them with the touch of a button.

The new building also includes a pneumatic tube system for the rapid transportation of testing materials and supplies to 21 locations throughout the hospital.

Visitors were allowed into areas they wouldn’t normally get to see, including the inside of the state-of-the-art operating rooms, and were given the chance to see the equipment used by surgeons to save lives.

“This is the operating room of the future. It routes information coming in and out of the room and includes high-definition video cameras and flat monitors to allow doctors to utilize information without leaving the room,” said Lee Jacobsen, a vendor for JM Keckle Medical Supply Company.

The hospital cost $132 million and was constructed in 22 months by Hunt Construction, Inc. Chief Financial Officer Sharon Johansson said just over $4 million is budgeted for utility costs for the first year the hospital is open, meaning it will cost approximately $11,000 a day to provide utility service to the center.

When the new hospital opens Dec. 3, the staff expects to move around 70 patients from the old hospital to the new building in a six-hour period. Also beginning at 8 a.m. on that day all emergency calls will be routed to the emergency room at the new building.

“This community has been waiting years for this to be built and I couldn’t be more pleased to be involved with the planning and creation of this hospital,” Livermore said. “This is what they deserve.”