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EIRMC opens new burn center

Health & Fitness

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IDAHO FALLS– Patients throughout the Gem State and region can receive critical burn treatment closer home thanks to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center’s new burn center — the only facility of its kind in the state.

“We’re very excited that finally, we are able to take care of (burn) patients in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and North and South Dakota,” says Coleen Niemann, EIRMC’s marketing director.

Niemann says before the center was built, patients dealing with serious burns would have to travel out of state to Salt Lake, Seattle, or Denver.

“We did often stabilize people who were critically injured from burns, but then immediately put them on an airplane or helicopter to transfer to one of those other communities,” Niemann says.

Now EIRMC has a six-bed burn intensive care unit.

The opening of this facility means that burn patients in a highly critical situation have better outcomes as they’re closer to medical care. Niemann says it’s also a financial and emotional advantage for patients families.

“Families typically would then have to drive down — if they were from Idaho Falls, three and a half hours to Salt Lake, or even twice that if they came from a community north of us like in Montana or Wyoming,” Niemann says.

Niemann says EIRMC was able to build the center thanks to a partnership with the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America, the largest provider for burn care in the country.

“It’s their infrastructure and their training and education that has really helped propel this opening forward,” Niemann says.

Niemann says implementing the burn center came with many renovations and cost roughly $3 million.

Room inside burn unit at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

EIRMC renovated a burn trauma room in its emergency room, added OR suites in its operating room, repurposed a part of its ICU and designated beds to its burn ICU, and went from five beds to 13 in its outpatient burn and wound care clinic, she says.

Niemann says burn patients have issues regulating their body temperatures, so many of those renovations include adjustments to the hospital’s HVAC system and an air-handling system to circulate clean air rapidly.

“We have to be able to rapidly heat a room up to 85 to 90 degrees,” Niemann says.

Hospital managers also added advanced UV light systems for infection control and a whirlpool treatment room.

They invested an additional $2 million dollars in special technology and equipment, including two advanced monoplace hyperbaric chambers with ventilator capabilities for critically-injured patients and technology for laser scar revision as well as equipment for damaged tissue removal and skin harvesting, Niemann says.

Advanced monoplace hyperbaric chamber with ventilator capabilities. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Niemann says more than 30 clinicians from several departments at EIRMC participated in shadowing nurses in Augusta, Georgia, at the largest burn center in the nation, the Joseph M. Still Burn Center.

“That alone was over 1,000 hours of education, and then those people came back, and now we’re adding another 2,000 hours of education for additional staff,” Niemann says. “The 2,000 is done onsite either by experts brought over from that facility or by those who’ve already undergone the training.”

Niemann says the hospital had three burn patients before the center’s official opening April 1, which speaks to the need of the program here locally she says.

“Since our opening, we have cared for 11 inpatients (in the burn ICU) in a matter of 15 days, and 12 outpatients on a recurring basis,” Niemann says.

Additionally, hospital staff has seen 12 patients with lesser injuries in the outpatient wound center.

“For a long time, EIRMC has been the regional healthcare provider serving southeast Idaho, western Wyoming, and southern Montana. This particular service significantly expands our service area,” Niemann says. “We are excited for the next evolution of our hospital.”

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