NEA Baptist runs drills to prepare for hospital opening

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Employees are in the midst of making the big move to the new NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital located on Johnson Avenue in Jonesboro.

The large, new facility opens to patients in just five days time, and workers are still training to figure out how to get around the building and use all the new equipment.

"January 12, 2014 – we have been so excited about that date," said Stephanie Taylor, the hospital's interim director of quality.

For more than a year, Taylor has helped prepare more than 350 employees for Sunday when the new hospital finally opens.

"This is a new environment for everyone and so there had to be a lot of emphasis placed on education because patient safety is the utmost interest for everyone who works here," Taylor said. "We had to have a lot of planning so that all of this came true and came about the time the opening occurred."

Training began in the new facility in September 2013, Taylor said. As construction progressed, the workers focused first on learning all the new equipment and technology installed in the hospital. During the past few weeks, she said the employees learned how to navigate the facility better before the patients arrived.

"We've spent the last month specifically on an event called a day-in-the-life," Taylor said. "We've built multi-functional scenarios that incorporated every department in the hospital in some form or fashion. That way, everyone could come in, and we practice these mock events [that range] from just transferring a patient from one department to the other so that they would know the routes that they needed to take as well as integration of all the new exciting technology we have."

The scenario that a group of employees practiced Tuesday afternoon involved moving someone who's had a severe allergic reaction on the NEA Baptist Clinic side to the intensive care unit in the hospital.

"Today's drill," Taylor said, "we have our emergency department staff, our ICU staff [and] our radiology staff were also involved as well as the clinic staff."

The employees timed themselves throughout the run-through so that they can improve their response times when actual patients come to the hospital starting Sunday.

"[The hospital] has done so much education," Lonna Thompson said. "We've done a lot with the facility itself, and then a lot as well with all of the new technology, our new monitoring and phone systems."

Thompson, who serves as the head ICU nurse on weekend nights, has already done five or six training sessions in the past few weeks and has even more to complete in the days ahead. She said she's anxious about opening day, but claims she's ready after all the practice.

"They've asked us to come in whenever possible, be involved in as many activities as we possibly can, so it's been great. It's been a lot," Thompson said. "We're very ready. We're excited – we're just ready to get moved."

The hospital has also practiced moving patients into the new facility ahead of this weekend. Hospital officials are encouraging people to start using the new NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital when it officially opens Sunday morning at 6.

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