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Patient volumes grow after Cincinnati Children's expands Liberty Campus

Roughly three months after Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center opened a new inpatient floor at its Liberty Campus, admitted patient volumes have more than doubled, according to the pediatric hospital.

Construction crews completed this year an approximately $50 million, 70,000-square-foot building renovation and expansion at the Liberty Twp. hospital, and in August opened 30 more beds for overnight stays. There are now 42 total inpatient beds. Since expanding capacity to see patients in the northern suburbs, the hospital’s inpatient census has more than doubled from six to 15 patients admitted on average on a given day, said Char Mason, vice president of operations for Cincinnati Children’s.

Not only is Liberty Campus seeing more patients, but patients that visit the emergency room or have surgery and need more care are now able to stay in Butler County closer to home, Mason said. Thanks to the upgrades, the Liberty Campus can see patients previously transferred to Cincinnati Children’s main hospital downtown.

“The types of patients, even the acuity of patients is different now in terms of being able to see a higher acuity as well as just a wider breadth of patients,” Mason said.

Eileen Murtagh Kurowski is an emergency room doctor for Cincinnati Children’s, but when her five-year-old son Gareth became sick with pneumonia this fall, she said she learned how important the convenience of the Liberty Campus is to patient families.

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At first she thought Gareth had a cold, but when things seemed to get worse she headed to the emergency department late at night with her husband and their other child, a seven-year-old, in tow.

And even though they live in Symmes Twp., the family traveled north to the Liberty Campus hospital instead of downtown, Kurowski said.

“I knew that he could be admitted at Liberty. It’s a little bit easier to get around because it’s a little bit smaller,” she said. “In the back of my mind of course I knew that the new unit was there and there would be space for us.”

Gareth stayed for two days and Kurowski said she was able to stay at her son’s side during his entire stay.

“I have to be the one to tell family members multiple times that they would have to send patients to main campus,” she said. “It makes me sad for all the times I couldn’t keep patients there before.”

The most severe patients still might have to go downtown, according to Cincinnati Children’s.

But in many cases, “we can take good care of them while keeping them close to the family that supports them,” Kurowski added. “I like to think it makes it a little easier for people and gives them some options.”

Cincinnati Children’s first opened Liberty Campus in 2008. Patient visits at the hospital, emergency department and outpatient center grew to more than 200,000 visits by 2014, Mason said.

With over 600 employees on site, the hospital is also the township’s single largest employer.

In addition to more patient rooms, hospital renovations included new, more advanced technologies such as telemedicine. Each of the new 42 inpatient rooms is hardwired with high-resolution cameras used to communicate with area pediatricians and specialists, according to Children’s.

The building expansion also added a kitchen; full-service cafeteria; expanded medical and surgery specialty clinics; new outpatient pharmacy; expanded gift shop and inpatient pharmacy; renovated laboratory and blood bank; a family resource center; and support space for Materials Management and Information Services, Mason has said before. Also, an on-call operating team is now available 24/7 including weekends, whereas before, surgeries were only done during scheduled hours Mondays to Fridays, she said.

The Cancer and Blood Disease Institute has also since opened at Liberty Campus, offering inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy and other follow-up visit services, she said.

One benefit of telemedicine services is patients and families can see doctors without traveling further and sometimes, spend more time with doctors, said Dr. Eric Wall, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who also specializes in sports medicine.

Even though he and the other orthopedic doctors would like to see all their hospital patients in-person every day, it’s sometimes not possible between the two hospital locations or after hours, Wall said. High-tech video conferencing is the next best thing, he said.

“The telehealth, it gives them sort of the same one-on-one doctor-patient relationship that you get at the main hospital,” Wall said. “I think they really do like seeing the doctor, being able to talk to the doctor and I probably spend more time with them because I’m not rushing.”

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