NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Try as he might, Dr. Kiwon Lee couldn't get the scissors to work during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.
Everything else about the neurocritical care unit unveiled by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, however, is state of the art.
The unit, where patients with severe brain injuries such as stroke or dementia will be treated, features 15 high-tech patient rooms designed to meet the demand of the critically ill. This is double in size from previous rooms.
The individual rooms will be equipped with moveable power columns, computers, lifts and dialysis connections.
There will be a freestanding CT scanner located centrally within the unit.
For Lee, the chief of neurology, the challenge of cutting the ribbon was nothing compared technical and design input to the architects of the neurocritical unit.
"This is really a special moment for all of us," Lee said. "We all put in our genuine time and efforts right to make this unit right, from design as well operation. We had a few hurdles to talk about, but that's just part of the growing pains."
Neurocritical care has been in the news in recent months, with the deaths of actor Luke Perry and director John Singleton, who each suffered strokes.
The increase in strokes and cases of dementia made this unit necessary, said Judy Lane, director of neuroscience service line.
Lane said there was great attention to detail. For instance, the front of each unit is completely glass to provide unobstructed views and optimize constant monitoring of patients. Then she flipped a light switch and the glass on the front of one of the units became frosted, allowing for some privacy.
Lane also said that the neurocritical care unit has dedicated spaces for family members that are designed to provide quiet and de-stressing environments.
Additionally, clinicians will have access to Moberg CNS neuromonitoring technology, the most advanced monitoring system of its kind designed specifically to address the needs of critically ill neuro patients. The Moberg CNS Monitor is a neuro-focused patient monitor that supports interoperability with multiple external devices. It supports clinicians by assisting in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of secondary neuronal injury and revealing changes in intracranial dynamics.
Hospital officials said the unit should start receiving patients by mid-June.
Lee and his colleagues said they can't wait to start saving lives.
"The shiny stuff will mean nothing if our observed expected death rate stays the same," Lee said. "It would mean absolutely nothing, money wasted, if our number doesn't go down. We're going to save lives and I'm going to prove it to you. We're going to show the numbers to you