If the environment at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital is any indication, the outcome of the Superbowl could have been predicted. Maj. Mary Condeluci, head nurse of the operating room, said an unofficial "Steeler's Nation" had a grassroots undercurrent in the operating room.

During a Guardian interview in the hospital hallway, a maintenance worker's Steelers hat elicited a "let's go Steelers, let's go!" from Condeluci. The head nurse, an avid Pittsburgh fan, proceeded to strike up a conversation with the worker. The positive spirit in the hospital, evidenced by the friendly banter, also has roots in a renewal project in the OR. BJACH's surgical section has plenty to be excited about -- besides the Superbowl win, their workspace has been renovated.

BJACH has nearly finished operating room renovations. The project began in 2007, and when it is complete the hospital will have four state-of-the-art ORs. Two of the rooms are up and running, and Condeluci has nothing but good things to say about them. "The old ORs were dreary," she said. "I didn't realize we were working in those conditions. When we saw the new lights, the lighter colors and the upgraded equipment, it changed morale." Improved staff morale translates directly into a better experience for everyone, including the patients. "If you work in a state-of-the-art facility, you deliver a better standard of care and you feel better about yourself," said Condeluci. "That gets conveyed to the Soldiers and their Family members. It's a win/win situation for the staff and patients."

Capt. Christine Quintana, OR nurse, is impressed with BJACH's facility. "Before I came to BJACH, I worked at Irwin Army Community Hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas," she said. "Irwin is the oldest hospital in the Army's inventory. Coming here to the new OR is just fantastic. Everything is brand new and works beautifully. We're looking forward to the completion of the project, when everything will mesh together."

Col. George Giacoppe, BJACH commander, explained the upgrades. "The previous OR was built with the hospital in 1983, and it's been updated from time to time," he said. "The current update introduces much more extensive use of imaging technology to facilitate laproscopic surgeries. There are big screens, so surgeons get a good view of what they're doing." The air conditioning and filtering systems have received an overhaul as well to keep pace with tighter standards for air quality, which reduces the risk of infection. "All of the surfaces of the new OR are designed to reduce bacterial buildup," said Giacoppe. "These are subtle things that you don't notice when you walk into the OR."

The new screens, which display internal images of a patient during a minimally invasive surgery, utilize high definition technology. "It's just like watching a football game in HD," said Condeluci. "We're doing surgery in HD now."

Condeluci assures patients that medical care at BJACH is as effective as civilian medicine. "Military medicine is just as state-of-the-art, and follows the same standards and practices as its civilian counterpart," she said. "You can feel confident that you're getting the same standard of care at Fort Polk that you would be getting in Shreveport or Baton Rouge."

Dr. (Maj.) David Lin, orthopedic surgeon at BJACH, concurred with Condeluci. "Patients can be assured that they're getting the same care here, and with the most advanced equipment."
The new equipment is impressive, but so is the BJACH staff, said Giacoppe. "Right now, the Army has some of the best surgeons in the world because they have the most practice, and they have practiced in a war zone," said Giacoppe. "The thing that makes Army teams stand out from most civilian teams is that the enlisted staff and the nurses have a lot more authority and experience than their civilian counterparts.

"What makes the difference is that the E-5 in the operating room in a military hospital will often have been deployed, worked in an independent medic position, and have attended the OR school. They know a lot more about general medicine and have a broader view of a patient than someone who has been trained in a narrow program to basically hand off instruments to a surgeon."
Staff Sgt. Anthony Rose, OR non-commissioned officer in charge, agreed with Giacoppe. "If you come to surgery, you don't have too much to worry about," he said. "The staff is dedicated to making sure you get the best care possible. The young Soldiers here are motivated. They spend a lot of time self-educating so they know what's going on in the procedure."

Giacoppe said quality of care has been maintained throughout the renovation process, and that the project should be complete this summer. In football terms, the BJACH OR has mirrored the Steeler's success and made a 100-yard interception return of its own.

Page last updated Wed February 11th, 2009 at 14:26