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Braselton facility conducts dress rehearsals before opening doors
Practice makes perfect for hospital staff
A crash cart is hurried to a room inside the Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Braselton campus March 25 as the hospital staff rehearse situations they may face after today’s opening.

A patient, complaining of dizziness and having difficulty breathing, requires an electrocardiogram and blood transfusion. As he receives the transfusion, the man goes into cardiac arrest, setting off a series of beeps and flashing lights in his room and outside in the hospital hallway — what is called a “Code Blue.”

Multiple medical professionals respond, including respiratory therapists and a nurse supervisor, but the patient dies.

Then a family member, understandably distraught, becomes irate and combative, setting off a “Code Combative” and requiring security to quickly intervene.

Meanwhile, a “Code Green” is called out, indicating a visitor has fallen down the stairs on the ground level floor. And a severe weather situation requires all patients to be removed from their rooms and sent to safer parts of the building.

This isn’t a scene from the latest TV medical drama. This was just one of the “Day in the Life” scenarios practiced by employees of Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s new Braselton campus in preparation for the moment when the new community hospital opened this morning.

“This won’t happen all at once,” said Mike Skobba, chief nurse officer at the Braselton location. “It’s about identifying problems. With all the work we’re doing to resolve the problems, they’ve been getting less of a surprise. So I’m both glad to see problems coming up today and yet not be like, ‘Oh, this is something we’ve never seen before.’

“Because really, at this point, we don’t want to have any surprises.”

The hospital’s third and final “Day in the Life” scenario was March 25, one week before the grand opening. A bevy of employees participated, acting out situations just like the aforementioned codes blue and green, testing everything from equipment to workflow to ensuring patient room toilets flushed properly.

“We’re going through all those little pieces of minutiae to get it just right,” Skobba said.

With more than 800 full-time and part-time employees and a nearly 238,000-square-foot hospital main campus, there’s a lot of space for glitches to pop up. But those employees have been running through scenarios in the weeks leading to today’s opening,

“We’re going to be looking at all of your equipment,” said Ann Ahmadi, project manager with consulting and planning group HTS.

Ahmadi gave a bit of a pep talk before the March 25 final run-through.

“We’re going to be understanding how you’re going to be moving through this facility, how you’re going to be traveling, and resolving or discovering any last, final issues that we have,” she said.

The days leading up to the grand opening have been mostly about resolving those final, minor issues — fixing some signage, for instance.

The Braselton location was designed with a fluid workflow in mind, helping employees get their jobs done more efficiently while cutting down on wait time for patients.

For example, each patient room is equipped with a “nurse server,” basically a section stocked with various supplies a nurse might need. That cuts down on someone responding to the in-room call then having to return to the nurse’s station to retrieve basic supplies.

“I think one of the unique opportunities we’ve had is just to include bed-side staff and people who care for the patients,” Skobba said. “In the design and choosing the equipment and in how the process will work in their care. That’s hard to do in an existing place.”

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