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Future of critical care unveiled in £53m hospital unit

Critically ill patients at the Ulster Hospital will now be treated in some of the most high-tech facilities in Europe as a £53m unit opens its doors.

The critical care building houses a 16-bed intensive care unit, seven operating suites, an endoscopy suite — where doctors examine patients internally using a specialised camera — and 14 recovery beds.

The unit will ensure the highest level of care is delivered to people fighting for their lives and patients admitted for simple diagnostic procedures.

Facilities for relatives have also been upgraded in the building to provide privacy and comfort.

Susan Baxter, clinical manager for anaesthetics, theatre and intensive care at the Ulster Hospital, said: “We now have seven fully equipped theatres where we do all our specialist, general, plastics, orthopaedics and emergency surgery.

“Nothing has been left to chance in the design of the unit. All the equipment hangs from the ceiling so there is nothing on the ground and there are no cables lying around. There are really clean spaces.

“There are no blinds or curtains in the single rooms in ICU. The nurses just push a button and the glass turns opaque. It gives the patient privacy when required but also ensures the nurses don’t feel isolated. It also supports good infection prevention and control practice.

“The eight single beds in ICU are a big advantage because we can isolate patients if we need to.”

Infection control has been at the forefront of the design of the unit. The operating theatres have pre-fabricated stainless steel walls that incorporate integrated flat screen monitors and non-touch sensor operated sliding doors.

Officially opening the new building, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: “Staff and patients will benefit from this magnificent new facility which has the most up-to-date equipment and technology.

“Patients will be treated by highly skilled teams working in the most modern, state-of-the-art operating theatres available.”

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