Mercy Gilbert Medical Center will double the number of beds in its intensive care unit today in a move hospital officials say is the first step toward specialized care for its most critical patients.
The number of beds will increase from 12 to 24, giving the intensive care unit beds about 10 percent of the hospital’s total.
A new focus on neurology, including stroke and brain aneurysm patients, makes the beds a valuable commodity, said intensive care director Cathy Frontczak. She also said the general need for intensive care unit beds has increased in Valley as the population has grown.
“There is so much done on an outpatient basis, that a lot of what we’re seeing in hospitals right now is intensive care treatment,” she said.
Mercy Gilbert will use the beds to support a new partnership with the Barrow Neurological Institute. Within the next six months, Barrow surgeons will work in Mercy Gilbert on patients with neurological issues.
Doctors from the renowned neurological center will come to the aid of East Valley patients who now often travel to Phoenix for care. Frontczak came to Mercy Gilbert 14 weeks ago from Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, where she was the director of cardiovascular and neurosurgical services.
Frontczak said many neurology patients were sent to Banner Good Samaritan because there are limited care facilities near Gilbert.
Mercy Gilbert’s orthopedic and neurosurgery unit, which opened Jan. 2, will also be used for Barrow doctors and their patients as they progress from intensive care.
The intensive care unit allows for constant monitoring of vital signs and will be used for any potentially life-threatening medical, surgical, neurological or cardiac condition.
Hospital staff crowded the new wing Friday for an open house.
Intensive care unit charge nurse Tanya Smith, who lives in Gilbert, said the additional beds are ideal for patients suffering any serious conditions and will allow for more patients who now stay in the emergency room to be transferred more quickly to intensive care.
“Sometimes patients are holding when there are not enough beds,” she said. “This will serve the community — there are still not that many hospitals out here.”