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(L-R) Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager John Culberson, Registered Nurse's Jen Brown, Vanessa Hartley, Melanie Martin, Cecily Huff-Smith and Nurse Administrator Dan Davis at the new Park City Medical Center ICU, opening Friday, July 12. (Chrisopher Reeves/The Park Record)

Park City Medical Center is opening a much-anticipated intensive care unit on Aug. 1 and, if its recent open house is any indication, Parkites are excited an estimated 1,800 people stopped by to tour the new facility.

The open house on Friday, July 12, was complete with demonstration dummies hooked up to various kinds of medical equipment and a walk-through exhibit of the human body.

An intensive care unit (ICU) is a hospital department that handles patients in need of critical care. Park City's ICU will complement the hospital's current Trauma Level IV status.

Dan Davis, the nurse administrator at Park City Medical Center, spearheaded the effort to make the ICU dream a reality. Davis has a 25-year background in intensive care and knew that he wanted to help create the Park City ICU from the day he interviewed for his job three years ago.

"I was told that this hospital was built to really meet the needs of our community on the Wasatch Back, that it was a long-standing need," Davis said. "The impetus for me was, if we're going to serve our community, there's this one piece of the puzzle that's missing and that's being able to care for those that are critically ill."

The patient rooms in the ICU are massive. Each room has its own large bathroom and a large La-Z-Boy-esque recliner that converts into a bed so that family members can stay at patients' bedsides comfortably throughout the night.


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The mountain views from the ICU rooms are stunning.

The focus on patients' family members was a key element in the design and creation of the ICU and the manner in which it will be operated. Davis speaks proudly about the hospital's "patient-focused care delivery model" and how he expects that model to shine through in the new ICU. "Patients heal a lot faster if they're emotionally strong and they're encouraged to get better."

When asked whether there is anything unique about this new ICU, aside from the views, Davis said "Our philosophy, in terms of the care-delivery model. Patient-centered care involving the family, allowing open visiting hours," that, Davis says, you don't normally find at ICUs. Daily grand rounds that's where all members of the patient's care team, from the physical therapist to the dietician, pharmacist, physician and nurse meet to discuss the plan of care and progress of the patient will include the option for patients and their family members to participate. "And that's fairly unique in ICU centers," Davis said.

He also noted the ICU features entirely brand new equipment. For example, he is excited about the advanced "top notch, state of the art" ventilators, or breathing machines, that "very few ICUs in other hospitals will have." Just as importantly, 11 nurses will be working exclusively in the ICU and all 11 have at least three years of critical-care experience.

Davis calculated that since the hospital opened in December, 2009, at least 400 patients that were sent to Salt Lake City for care could have been treated in Park City if an ICU had been in place. Davis described that number as "a conservative estimate."

The ICU will allow the hospital to handle many more kinds of injuries than it can currently deal with, especially the kinds of sports injuries one would expect in a highly-active town like Park City. "A lot more of the orthopedic injuries, the bone fractures that are a little bit higher risk, we can keep now," Davis said.

Still, certain trauma patients, such as those with severe head or chest injuries, will continue to be transferred to a larger facility in Salt Lake to be cared for by a specialist, such as a neuro or thoracic surgeon.

Park City Medical Center reached its funding goals for the ICU last August and construction began in December. The space in which it was built was previously "shelled" space, which allowed construction to proceed relatively quickly. When asked whether there were any significant obstacles in building the ICU, Davis said "In terms of challenges, we've been really fortunate. The community's really given us great support. As a matter of fact, we've received a lot of donations towards building the ICU."

The ICU staff has been in full preparation mode and is excited to open for business on Aug. 1, but none more so than Dan Davis. "It's my love," he says about critical care. And he puts his money where his mouth is he recently turned down an enticing job offer from another Utah hospital, in part because of the ICU. "I wanted to see this happen, bring the ICU to fruition."