The scenario recently sidetracked this businesswoman’s life. The glands in my throat began to swell over a plate of oatmeal at the Top of La Concha during a Sunrise Rotary meeting. Swallowing had suddenly became as painstaking as watching a tourist from Minnesota don snorkel gear. I crawled into bed and slept, until my brother came by and threw a box of Popsicles into the freezer.
“Ew,” he said with disgust. “Do you want some soup? I’m getting out of here before I get sick.”
One day later, the Popsicles and Tylenol failed to work their over-the-counter remedy magic.
“You have to take me to the ER,” I moaned to a friend in desperation over the phone. “My throat is killing. I think I have strep,” I said pitifully.
An hour later I handed over my ID to the empathetic woman at Lower Keys Medical Center Patient Check-In. A nurse whisked me into the prep room, took my blood pressure, asked my weight, and with sensitivity only a nurse possesses, swabbed my swollen throat. I gagged in pain. I haven’t had strep since the fallout of Spring Break ’99!
“That does not look good,” she said shaking her head. Her words couldn’t comfort me, but her bedside manner did.
Moments later in Patient Room 1, the concerned LKMC ER doctor shined a light into my throat, then ever-so-lightly touched my glands, now the size of Little Palm Island, and advised me to go ahead and lie down.
“Yep. Your throat is full of puss and gunk,” he confirmed. “I’ll be back as soon as I find out the results from the culture.”
I collapsed onto the hospital exam table covered with a thick, sterile, white paper. All I cared about was lying down, someplace cool; in the competent hands of a medical professional who I think I’ve seen before riding his bike down Atlantic Boulevard. Then again shopping at Fausto’s.
Little did I know I was a mere two weeks away from missing the hospital’s new gem, an expanded ER.
Lower Keys Medical Center has just opened up a new $3 million dollar renovation project; which includes five additional ER beds, bringing the total to 13!
“This new area makes the ER much more efficient,” raves Registered Nurse Kim Hutchinson on my visit back to take a peek. “There’s just so much more space, it’s brighter, and we have a new nurse-call system, in case a patient needs attention immediately.”
“We’ve made so many changes in this building to open up this space,” notes Marketing Director, Randy Detrick. “These are all new beds and it’s a whole new area. Plus, we’ve also implemented the new ER Extra program to help bring people back faster, so they don’t have to wait as long.”
Hutchinson observes, “Today, we’ve seen so many more patients, more quickly. A lot of flu-like symptoms, respiratory illnesses… sprained ankles.”
The diagnostic equipment and computers are also brand new.
Across the hallway is the other facet of the multi-million dollar renovation project, a Cardiac Catheterization/Special Procedures Lab. A multi-purpose radiology and diagnostic area is capable of performing more than just cardio-related medical procedures. Interventional Radiologist will also share the room with a new Cardiologist.
“We had 250 – 300 cases transferred to Miami last year alone, notes Jose Hernandez, Director of Radiology at LKMC.
“A transfer to the mainland due to a medical emergency adds undue stress to the patient and the family when you think of transfer costs, travel time, hotel costs, and days families are apart. This new diagnostics area will certainly help alleviate not having to transfer so many patients to facilities on the mainland,” Detrick adds.
He also points out that all of the renovations and improvements were paid for by the hospital and not your taxpayer dollars.
“We will be offering more procedures and rounding out the services we provide. This expansion of the ER and addition of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab will dramatically add to the overall patient care we’re able to provide. Our patients will be much happier. That’s the bottom line.”
The Cardiac Catheterization/Special Procedures Lab boasts of many features. Most notably the new lab is filmless, paperless, and physicians can view results in real time in the privacy of their medical office.
You don’t have to wait for the ribbon cutting on November 20. We have the exclusive video tour for you now! Log on to keysweekly.com. Registered Cardiovascular Technologist, Randall Budden shows you the new setup and let’s you know how the lab will propel LKMC forward to handle you and your family’s medical needs!
Lower Keys Medical Center
As for my diagnosis: the flu. The remedy: Cepacol, Gatorade, Oatmeal, two boxes of Popsicles, and a round of steroids. “Hopefully you won’t be back until you’re in the maternity ward,” joked Detrick as he showed me the spacious labor and delivery suites where mom’s can deliver their cherished Conchs in warmth. “But, if you are, there are so many new amenities, and soothing surroundings, you’ll be comfortable, no matter how swollen your throat is!”
Randy Budden (right) and Jose Hernandez (left) inside the new cardiac catheterization lab. They stress the addition is a multi-purpose room where minimally invasive procedures will be performed by cardiologists and radiologists alike.
Kim Hutchinson, RN in the expanded ER area which opened just a week ago.
Jose Hernandez, Director of Radiology stresses the new lab is a multi-purpose room where the doctor will be able to perform more procedures unrelated to the heart; such as, uterine fibroid embolization and balloon assisted kyphoplasty.