Hoag upgrades operating room

A hospital operating room is not the usual place you'd associate with mood lighting and ambient sound.

"It's like a resort," Ellen Chitjian said of Hoag Hospital's new Allan and Sara Fainbarg Electrophysiology Cath Suite, which is equipped with two 55-inch flat-screen monitors and a sound system more reminiscent of something a patient would see over a massage bed, not an operating table.

"It's very calming, very soothing," said Chitjian, who underwent a coronary catheterization at Hoag five years ago. "If I compare the two rooms, it was very bright, light, noisy; this is very different. This is very calming and I think that helps out a patient a lot when you're about to undergo a procedure. You're already nervous, so this could make a big difference."

The new cath suite is designed to increase a patient's comfort and the doctor's efficiency during EP catheterizations — minimally invasive procedures where long wires (electrode catheters) are used to examine and treat the heart. Patients are normally kept awake, with only mild sedatives, during the procedure.

"Any time you're in a hospital, it's a stressful environment," said Janet Ensign, marking director of Philips Healthcare, distributor of the Philips Ambient Experience. "What a nurse can do is ask a patient what kind of environment they find most comforting, then coordinate the sound and lighting."

"You can tell how it changes the room," Ensign continued as she flicked on two ceiling-mounted screens to display a beach scene, while room lights dimmed to soft shades of blue and magenta.

The suite opens to patients next week with the first procedure scheduled for Wednesday, said Dr. Jay Lee, medical director of EP at Hoag.

"We hope that this will streamline patient care, make things more efficient and improve procedure outcomes," he said.

The suite also has innovative safety features. A "zero gravity" radiation system, which is essentially a head-to-toe shield mounted on a track in the ceiling, removes the need for a 20-pound radiation apron that a physician typically wears during the lengthy procedure.

"This will improve the comfort of patients, physicians and staff," Lee said of the suite.

In the event that a child needs to undergo a catheterization procedure, the Phillips Ambient Experience is programmed with mood-enhancing cartoon cats, clouds and other imagery.

"You see how it changes a stark medical setting into something really soothing," Ensign said. "It's really tailored to the patient experience."


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