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Creating a More Responsive Environment for Care

Health System

In April 2011, the U.Va. Medical Center opened the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center. Named for the late Virginia state Senator Emily Couric, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001, the designers of the $74 million cancer center carefully planned the building to meet the needs of patients and their families and make treatment more convenient. Its designers thoughtfully designated space in its clinics for nurses coordinating clinical trials, providing patients with easier access to investigational treatments in a warm, inviting, and invigorating space designed for the needs of patients and their families.

The Couric Center also houses cutting-edge cancer-fighting technology. The center is the first in the United States and only the second in the world to offer TomoHD, a system that can deliver a radiation beam that conforms extremely closely to the irregular contours of cancer tissue. Because it is so accurate, radiologists can optimize the radiation dose, reducing the number of treatments.

The University also broke ground on the Battle Building at U.Va. Children's Hospital. Named for Bill and Barry Battle, two longtime advocates for children's health care, the Battle Building will centralize outpatient health care for children that is currently scattered across the Health System. The $141 million facility will house general and specialist pediatric care, along with therapeutic and educational areas, in a 200,000-square-foot, seven-story complex. There will be seventy-five examination rooms and "treatment neighborhoods" that group related services together, all in a welcoming environment. The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2014, with approximately $10 million still to be raised. Support the Battle Building.

In addition, the University dedicated the Transitional Care Hospital, an important element in the Health System's strategy of making the most appropriate use of the University Hospital. The Transitional Care Hospital specializes in treating patients with complex medical conditions that require long stays, such as patients on ventilators or waiting for or recovering from transplants.

The opening of a hybrid operating room that includes leading-edge imaging technology as well as standard operating room technology is another indication of the Medical Center's determination to ready itself for the future of health care. Designed for use by heart patients, the hybrid OR is the first of its kind in central Virginia and one of only a few in the nation. Both imaging and surgery can be performed in one room, enabling physicians to monitor patients during procedures. For patients, this means safer surgeries, fewer corrective surgeries, and shorter hospital stays.

The Medical Center also updated its electronic infrastructure this year, integrating medical records that had been divided among paper and electronic files. Within the space of a year, the Medical Center conducted a sequenced launch of the Epic electronic medical record system at more than 140 ambulatory clinics across central Virginia, in the cancer center, and finally at University Hospital. No other major medical center in the U.S. has conducted such a comprehensive launch with such an ambitious timeline. Successful implementation required thousands of people in the Health System to collaborate to design, build, and test the new system.

The benefits to both patients and providers are substantial. Integrating medical records in a single electronic system gives the Medical Center the power to provide care that is more timely, more appropriate, less duplicative, and, above all, safer. In addition, having a single system enables physicians to see their patients more clearly, both as individuals and in the aggregate. It also gives the Health System a platform to evaluate the care it provides and make systematic and systemic changes to improve quality. Nearly $122 million has been budgeted to develop, implement, and refine the electronic medical records system over a five-year period.

The determination to provide the best possible care in the best setting is one reason that the U.Va. Medical Center received special recognition in 2010–11. For the second time in three years, the National Research Council named it a Consumer Choice Winner. In addition, U.S. News & World Report ranked five medical specialties in its 2011–12 survey of "Best Hospitals," including diabetes and endocrinology (13); neurology and neurosurgery (35); ear, nose and throat (39); gynecology (44); and cancer (48). The Medical Center is also known for its cardiovascular care. For the seventh time, Thomson Reuters recognized the Medical Center as one of the nation's top fifty hospitals for inpatient cardiovascular care.