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Distractions are abundant at Pavilion Surgery Center

At St. Luke's new Pavilion Surgery Center, distractions are the name of the game. Creative decor in every room is designed to make a patient think about anything but being nervous.

At St. Luke's new Pavilion Surgery Center, distractions are the name of the game. Creative decor in every room is designed to make a patient think about anything but being nervous.
The effect of the new center is apparent. The waiting area looks more like a well-appointed hotel lobby. A large central fireplace adds warmth to the room. A play area, complete with Nintendo games, television and books, distracts the younger patients.
The eleven individual rooms, where patients prepare for surgery, are decorated in themes like a rustic cabin, a springtime garden and a sports room with all kinds of sports paraphernalia. There's even a room about the shipwrecks of Lake Superior.
"The whole idea for the decor in this building, from the time you come in the waiting area to the pre- and post-op rooms, is to distract the patient from the surgery," Rick Marsh director of the Pavilion Surgery Center said. "There are other things they can focus on, such as shipwrecks of Lake Superior to cable TV with VCRs in each room, a private phone in each room. There are lots of ways for a patient to take their mind off of something that no one is real comfortable with."
Tana Casper, vice president of patient operations, came up with the ideas for the rooms. She said discussions with physicians about making it less institutional and more warm and welcoming led her to bring some levity to the decor.
"It was fun," she said. "People will be coming and being nervous, and this gives them something else to focus on and talk about, particularly kids."
Casper found wall hangings, clocks, light switch plates and furniture to fit all her themes. Some even came from Montana, discovered there while she was on vacation.
The outpatient surgery center is designed not only to make patients comfortable but to get them in and out quickly.
"Patients can come in an hour before surgery, we can get them through, recovered and out the door," Marsh said. A lot of the procedures will just be a few hours."
The center, located in the new building across First Street from St. Luke's Hospital, will see its first surgery early in December; Marsh says the state Department of Health and Medicare still have to conduct their inspections before they can really get going.
Outpatient surgery centers are one of the fastest growing areas in health care. There are 3,000 centers in the United States. More and more surgical procedures are being done outside the hospital now, either in physician offices or outpatient surgery centers. "Patients love them," Marsh said. "They much prefer to come to a setting like this than go to the hospital."
Jennifer Simonson is a health and news reporter for the Budgeteer. Contact her at 723-1207 or at jsimonson@duluth.com .

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