JCMC opens new Family Surgical Waiting Area

JOHNSON CITY -- The new Family Surgical Waiting Area is open at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC), complete with soothing colors interspersed throughout rug, wall and seating areas. In addition, the area is enhanced with the soothing sounds of running water as well as visibly pleasing and beautifully framed prints. Families of patients in General Surgery are invited to sit, rest, read and wait in the area. When doctors arrive to talk to them about their loved ones, there are two private consultation rooms in which patients' families and doctors may meet.
   The prints are the photography work of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) Washington County facilities' CEO John Melton. Melton, who moved to East Tennessee from Alabama several years ago, has enjoyed walking among, observing and photographing the life of our mountains, he said.
   Old houses, barns, intricately constructed fences, centuries-old trees, winding fence rails, colorful fields and scores of other still life studies appear in Melton's photographs. He chose the prints for the Family Surgical Waiting Area for their tranquility, serene settings and style, to match the earth-toned, classical lines and colors in the large room. A portable, small babbling waterfall stands on a table that holds current magazines and pamphlets.
   The desk of the Family Advocate who staffs the waiting area is adjacent to the larger room, divided into smaller sitting areas by half walls with upper nooks that will eventually hold tasteful accessories.
   Family Advocate Mary Moore works from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Her new location is miles away aesthetically from the smaller space she -- and other Family Advocates -- worked in before the move.
   "I think the waiting area will help families have more of a feeling of assurance," said Moore, who has been a Family Advocate since December 2002.
   The "very peaceful atmosphere" also features lamps with soft lights and will include computer access for the Internet as well as phone lines to call friends and families and an electronic tracking board designed to allow families to see where their loved ones are in the surgery process. Patients will be given identifiers, instead of using names, so that families may have privacy. Soft, comfortable chairs contribute greatly to families who must wait for several hours. Final touches are arriving daily.
   Part of the Family Advocate's job is to check in families who come to wait on a surgical patient, list their names and keep them informed. "We've already had a lot of comments from families here that include that they know exactly what is going on. That makes them feel good," Moore added.
   The space, on the first level adjacent to the surgical suites, has a seating capacity of 45 and was used for offices and sleep rooms for on-call team members. It took three months to plan and implement the construction of the waiting area into the calm, soothing environment that contributes to making MSHA the premier healthcare facility with patient-centered care as its focus.
   The ICU waiting areas and the ambulatory surgery areas are still used. The Family Surgical Waiting Area is to be used by general surgery patients' families as well as patients of some other surgical procedures.
   The newly opened area is just one of many projects under way at MSHA facilities that are being designed with patients and their families in mind. A newly designed cafeteria will be open in late summer, and a garden setting at the entrance to JCMC is being completed. The JCMC ICU expansion, visible from State of Franklin Road, will feature "healing gardens," as well as water-enhanced displays and comfortable seating. It is expected to be complete in 2005. And aquariums in waiting areas in other MSHA facilities have drawn many favorable comments from visitors.