Wake Forest Baptist applies for expansion of burn center
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WINSTON-SALEM - Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is looking to expand its intensive care unit for burn patients. The hospital has asked the state for the okay to add more beds, which officials said would help the burn ICU keep pace with rising demand.
The unit currently has eight beds. The medical center filed a certificate of need application with the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation to add another four.
"The occupancy of the eight beds that we have often reaches a hundred percent," said Lynn Pitman, Wake Forest Baptist Health's associate vice president for strategic and business planning.
Wake Forest Baptist and UNC Hospitals operate the only two American Burn Association-verified burn centers in the state. Many of the patients in intensive care are fighting for their lives.
"Those patients are the ones that during the acute phase they are arguably the sickest patients in this entire hospital,” said Dr. James Holmes, director of the burn center. “It becomes a very, very labor intensive, resource intensive endeavor to successfully manage these patients so they hopefully can return to their pre-burn functioning level."
The $1.4 million renovation would require an increase in staff including nurses. The burn ICU draws patients from western North Carolina and beyond the state line into southern Virginia, eastern Tennessee and northern South Carolina, which Pitman said underscores the need for expansion.
"So, in order to meet both the current demand that we see for the patients, as well as the future projected demand, we need to expand the infrastructure in terms of the number of beds that we have," she said.
Holmes said in his time at the burn center the ICU hadn't turned down a needed transfer but the added beds would provide considerable benefit to patients.
"In my opinion it will certainly improve patient care, patient outcomes and patient safety," he said.
Wake Forest Baptist asked the state to expedite its review and could hear back in late September. Pitman said if the state approved the application, she anticipated completion of construction in July 2014.