JCMC opens new state-of-the-art surgery center


Larger operating rooms, more comfortable family spaces put patients and families at the forefront

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Officials at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) introduced to the public a new, state-of-the-art surgery center Friday morning that is designed to provide access to the latest surgical technology and create a better experience for patients and families alike.

“No one looks forward to having surgery, but if you need to have a procedure done, you want it to be done with the most up-to-date equipment and in the most comfortable environment possible,” said Dennis Vonderfecht, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA). “We’ve designed this new surgery center around what’s best for the patient, from the medical technology that improves patient outcomes to the redesigned waiting areas that make the patient’s loved ones more comfortable.”

The new tower features 16 operating rooms, each 30 percent larger than their older counterparts, to allow space for all of the equipment that today’s surgeons use. One important new piece of surgical technology in the center is the Artis Zeego robotic imaging system, which allows surgeons to move the imaging arm into almost any position around the patient during surgery. This makes it easier than ever to create a detailed picture of internal organs before, during and after a procedure.

“The Zeego allows us to be able to see the inside of the patient in three dimensions without having to do open surgery,” said Dr. Andrew Poret, a cardiothoracic surgeon at JCMC. “This will bring even more precision to the complex endovascular procedures that we perform at JCMC, resulting in better patient outcomes, shorter hospital stays, and less risk of complications. We’re excited to be able use this technology to offer the most advanced procedures in the safest environment for our patients.”

Other advanced surgical technology in the center includes:

  • LED surgical lighting – providing better visibility with low heat output;
  • Large (55”) high-definition monitors – allowing surgeons to clearly reference the patient’s diagnostic scans;
  • Anesthesia equipment mounted on ceiling booms – freeing up floor space for clinicians to move freely around the patient; and
  • Video monitors mounted on ceiling booms – allowing surgeons to view scans without stepping away from the patient.

The center also includes 48 patient care bays for pre- and post-operative care. There are no inpatient beds in the center. According to David Nicely, CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance’s (MSHA) Washington County facilities, the construction is not an expansion for JCMC, but rather an improvement.

“We still have 16 operating rooms, the same number that were in the old surgery suite,” Nicely said. “But those old ORs were built in 1980, and they were much too small to accommodate the technology we use today – certainly too small to incorporate new technologies as they become available. We looked at renovating the existing space, but it was much more cost effective and patient-centered to put the ORs in a new wing that could be designed from the ground up with patients and families in mind.”

The surgery center offers more convenient parking for families, as well as easier access for same-day surgery patients coming in and out of the facility. The waiting area is designed to be inviting and comfortable, with lots of natural light and soothing colors. A children’s play room has been added, as well as two private consultation rooms where surgeons can give updates to family members. The facility will also employ a coaster pager system to help keep families informed.

A healing garden is located directly outside the family waiting area, including a direct path to the hospital’s Einstein’s Café. Families will also have access to computers, vending machines and a coffee bar.

“We know that the patient’s family is an integral part of the care team, and we want to make them as comfortable as possible during their stay,” Nicely said.

As with all new MSHA construction, the facility is also built with environmental responsibility in mind. It is designed to be LEED certified according to guidelines set forth in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council. Some green aspects of the project include:

  • 77 percent of the waste from the construction process was recycled;
  • Low-VOC materials were used for paint, adhesives and sealants;
  • The central sterilization unit is equipped with steam cleaners that make the sterilization process more energy efficient;
  • The landscaping features plants that do not require irrigation, thereby conserving water;
  • A bicycle storage area is available for hospital team members; and
  • An automation control system keeps the HVAC system and lighting running at the most energy-efficient levels.

The total cost of the project was $63 million. About 1,000 jobs were created during the construction process, which began in February 2012.

Photo ID (L-R): Dennis Vonderfecht, MSHA President and CEO, and  Dr. Andrew Poret, cardiothoracic surgeon, with the Zeego robotic imaging system


About Mountain States Health Alliance

Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children’s hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services, retail pharmacies, a comprehensive medical management corporation, and the region’s only provider-owned health insurance company. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit www.msha.com.


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