$13.2 million surgery hospital to open Monday

After about 19 years of medical service, Carson Ambulatory Surgery Center closes its doors today and will open a $13.2 million new state-of-the-art surgical specialty hospital on Medical Parkway in North Carson City on Monday.

Joan Lapham, chief executive officer of Sierra Surgery & Imaging, said Tuesday that closing the 1299 Mountain St. surgery center is bittersweet.

For more than a month, employees have been moving into Sierra Surgery & Imaging, 1400 Medical Parkway, and preparing for the first patients to arrive on Monday.

"We've outgrown our former space and facility so we made the decision to expand," Lapham said. "We took it a step up to a full surgical hospital and added diagnostic imaging services."

What that means to Carson City surgical patients is less of a wait and a more comfortable experience. When patients do have to wait, they'll be sitting inside an expansive room with 26-foot ceilings. While inside the main reception area, guests will look around and see blue sky and mountains through the high windows.

The new 49,000-square-foot surgical hospital is decorated in cinnamon, plum and sage colors. Medical staff walk the halls in plum scrubs. Natural light cascades down the tan walls onto leaf-print carpeting. Lapham said this natural environment will help patients feel comfortable.

The hospital environment has changed, and so has the equipment.

Lapham said the company invested $8 million in equipment, including a digital mammography unit, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging unit and a CT scan.

Brett Borgers, the MRI technician, was eager to talk about his 1.5 Tesla superconducting magnet, which is 25 times stronger than the Earth's magnetic pull.

"It's a pleasure to work with new and state-of-the-art equipment," he said outside the MRI suite. "None of it breaks."

The hospital's CEO said patients in the women's center will notice the difference. The digital mammography is quicker and takes clearer images. The doctor will also do needle localization here. And biopsies will be done across the hall in the new radiology department, rather than across the city for testing.

Hospital officials expect to serve 5,300 patients a year from Carson City, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties, she said.

Each surgical room is brightly lit and centered around the operating table. Medical equipment and flat-panel screen monitors are arranged on Skytron equipment carriers, which rotate on a 280-degree arch. Lapham said these "equipment booms" are important because they can be moved into place by the surgeon, and there are no cords to trip over. The hospital could add on three more operating rooms.

The 15 patient rooms look more like hotel rooms.

"We learned from our focus group what people wanted to see in the new hospital," Lapham said. "People didn't want to feel like they were in an institution. So, we really tried to decorate, to make it feel more like a hotel environment."

That includes wireless Internet access, a sleeper chair in the corner for a relative, a full bath with decorative tile and fixtures, wood molding and room service. All of the necessary surgical equipment is hidden behind cabinet doors. The laminate floor was made to look like a maple wood floor.


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