When finished, our McMurry West Tower and MRI building will have more than 3 miles of copper electrical wire laid within the walls. That’s enough to stretch from Wyoming Medical Center to the Casper Events Center.
The McMurry West Tower is set to open late this summer. It will provide 98,000 square feet for state-of-the-art medical care, 20 private surgical rooms and a new mother-baby unit with 12 private rooms.
As the weather turned colder this winter, workers for Haselden Caspar/ Pope JV moved inside to frame out the building’s interior with more than 11,000 steel studs. Crews have installed 5,000 batts of insulation and are now hanging the 4,300 sheets of drywall. Now, you can imagine the shape, layout and space the rooms will provide for patients and families. You can also see the outlines of our new main entrance, spacious dining area and the Cottage Gift Shop. The tower will also have space for a 7,000-square-foot Wellness Center.
Many more impressive numbers can be found inside the walls of our new tower, designed to create a better hospital experience for the thousands of Wyoming families who come to us each year. Here are a few:
2 air-handling units, each weighing 55,000 pounds, installed on the roof to ensure quick and efficient air ventilation
More than 100 windows framed and installed
15,000 cubic yards of soil removed for caissons and foundations
275 tons of rebar used
4,411 cubic yards of concrete poured
1,400 sheets of thermax sheathing installed
3,300 exterior steel studs installed
10,000 feet of 6-inch metal strap blocking used
240 sheets of ¾-inch fire treated plywood blocking used
More than 8,000 feet of ¾-inch metal electrical conduit laid
Thank you to the El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Fire Department for taking the time to recognize several members of our ER team.
Fire Chief Dave Roberts sent a letter on Sept. 10 thanking Dr. Jonna Cubin for the excellent care Wyoming Medical Center gave to a colleague and friend who’d wrecked his motorcycle on his way to the Sturgis rally. He asked her to pass on his department’s gratitude to WMC Emergency Department Senior Nurse Manager Corrine Arross, ER nurse Nicole Beckstead,Sam Baker, Paramedic Riley Becksted, and Wyoming Life Flight nurse Chuck Bright. He also sent along six coins he developed to award his staff for “performance above expectations.”
“It is a tradition in the military, law enforcement and the fire service to ‘coin’ someone for going above and beyond in the performance of their normal duties. In my opinion, your team far surpassed all of our expectations,” Chief Roberts wrote. “Very few of these El Dorado Hills Fire Department coins have gone outside the walls of our organization. I would be honored if you would accept a coin yourself and present each of the members I have listed with one of our coins.”
Read the entire letter by clicking on the images below. Please accept our belated appreciation, Chief Roberts, and we wish your friend a quick recovery.
In 2008, Wyoming Medical Center got the state’s first da Vinci S™ HD Surgical System. Our doctors are the most experienced on the da Vinci and offer more procedures than any other hospital in Wyoming.
Dr. Todd Hansen, a urologist at Central Wyoming Urological Associates, has performed hundreds of surgeries with the robot, cutting his patients’ recovery times and improving their outcomes.
The Pulse recently sat down with Dr. Hansen to talk about the benefits of minimally invasive surgeries and how patients can determine the right treatment options for them.
Hansen: I grew up in a small rural town in Arizona called Joseph City. My grandfather was a big rancher, but my father went into dentistry. We lived right there with my uncles who took over the ranch and were highly involved. I liked ranching more than I did dentistry.
The Pulse: What interested you about medicine generally and urology specifically?
Hansen: I think it just kind of fascinated me. I was not certain at all when I got started with school that I was going to go into medicine, but it just kind of aligned with my interests and talents.
Urology is kind of a hidden specialty. It is not something a lot of people think of, and I was one of them. I never thought of it going into medical school, though I did feel myself getting pulled toward the surgical side of things.
I was working with a urologist when I began to realize that: One, they were a fun group to work with and, two, the procedures and the surgeries they were doing were very fascinating. I think most of us kind of think urology as old man’s health care. I realized that was anything but the truth. Really, we were on the cutting edge of a lot of surgical innovations, and we did extensive surgeries that I really enjoyed.
The Pulse: What do you mean cutting edge?
Hansen: For example, we do many laparoscopies, robotics and things like that. Quite frankly, urology has been the leader in robotics. Look at minimally invasive surgery, endourology with the ability to do things with scopes that we do. We do some really big, fascinating reconstructive surgeries as well. We do cystectomies and reconstruct a whole urinary system.
The Pulse: What are the advantages of minimally invasive procedures like those that can be done with the da Vinci S™ HD Surgical System?
Hansen: Before da Vinci, I had already done a tremendous amount of laparoscopy, where you are putting ports into the abdomen and doing surgery. The da Vinci is just an extension off of that, but you have a robot, so you have wristed instruments. It is kind of a natural step to be able to provide more care minimally invasive that you could not do with just a plain laparoscope.
With robotics, you do a complex surgery without making a big incision. An open surgery entails going through major muscles, even potentially taking a rib. There is much more pain and discomfort, a much higher chance of hernia and higher risk of infection; da Vinci makes smaller port sites, hernias are much less common. Infection rate drops a lot. Pain and discomfort drop immensely and there is a shorter hospital stay.
The advantages are fairly obvious. A large incision going through major muscle versus some small port sites is not a subtle difference.
Hansen: That just depends on how you term recovery. The patient will forever be more comfortable without open surgery, because once you go through those muscles, a lot of times you end up with nerve injuries and some muscle paralysis. The short of it is: You are going to be dramatically more comfortable after minimally invasive surgery. Your ability to get back to work and do things is going to be increased significantly in terms of weeks probably.
The Pulse: What can you offer with da Vinci that others can’t?
Hansen: There is a huge gap in the community and their understanding of what is really offered here that is not offered anywhere else in this state urologic-wise.
For example, if you have a tumor in your kidney, we have the ability to remove that tumor without removing the entire kidney – what we call a partial nephrectomy. That results in longer life expectancy and decreased chance of renal failure. There are huge advantages to the patient to do a partial versus a total nephrectomy.
We not only have the ability to do that, and to do that well, but to do it without an open incision. That is not being done anywhere else. The ability to re-implant ureters and do it without an open incision is not being done anywhere else. We can do sacrocolpopexy, or female reconstructive surgery, without making an open incision.
If you want to know the truth, I suspect there are a ton of patients out there that are getting total nephrectomies with the entire kidney removed when they should just be getting a partial nephrectomy. I can tell you that no one else is doing that minimally invasively. To be frank, I do not think the community has any idea how much further ahead we are than the rest of the urologic community in this area.
The Pulse:Is this something that patients should ask for? If their urologist doesn’t offer minimally invasive or laparoscopic surgeries, what should they do?
Hansen: It is a patient issue. Patients should ask for second opinions on the best treatment options, and that doesn’t mean going to Denver or Salt Lake City. A lot of people just don’t realize that we offer it in Casper.
I get some urologists who do refer to me, but there are a lot that do not. They either just remove the entire kidney, or they do an open surgery. You cannot say that is substandard care, but I do not think even our own hospital recognizes how much further apart we have set ourselves than the vast majority of the care that is getting performed.
I think it is appropriate for any patient in any situation to ask for a second opinion if they feel that it would benefit them. It is okay for a patient to ask for a second opinion. I have patients who do that. We all have patients who do it.
It’s OK to ask your doctor: “Is this something that can be done in a less invasive way?”
The Pulse: How many different procedures are you able to do on the da Vinci?
Hansen: The question anymore is, “What don’t we do on the da Vinci?” There are not very many abdominal surgeries that we are not doing with da Vinci and/or robotically.
Take a prostatectomy: You end up being able to do a better dissection because you can see better. You end up doing a better anastomosis because you can see better. You can actually perform the surgery better robotically than you can open.
Some people would debate that. This is not a hard and fast thing, but in my experience, I think you can actually get better outcomes doing it robotically. There is a fair amount of literature that suggests you can. Definitely, you can do it with a better recovery. If your surgeon said “Let’s take out your gallbladder laparoscopically versus doing an open gallbladder,” every person would choose a laparoscopic gallbladder.
The Pulse: What are the advantages of having these procedures in Casper as opposed to traveling out of state?
Hansen: One of the huge advantages is follow-up. You have a physician who is committed to taking care of you long term. Many of my patients have found it frustrating that they have gone elsewhere and then realized that there is really not much follow-up. These physicians are kind of like, “just go back and see whomever.” That is probably one of the biggest advantages as there is much better follow-up care long term, not just immediately.
I still respect the fact that the patients need to do what they are comfortable with. I do not believe I lose very many to outside facilities. Most of them are very comfortable with the care we are providing. I know the hospital is very focused on that. I think I have more in-migration than out-migration. I get many more patients referred into me than I have leaving, by a huge number.
I do think there are patients who we never see to begin with because they do not know what we can do here. The biggest area that is true in is pediatric urology. That is probably education that needs to go on at the level of the pediatricians.
The Pulse: What trends do you see coming in urological medicine?
Hansen: There have been so many advances, mainly related to the da Vinci robots. When I started here, for example, we were doing all kinds of open procedures. Now, the number of open procedures has been cut down to just a trickle.
The biggest advancements are going to continue to be learning to do things minimally invasive with better outcomes. That will still be the trend. Cystoprostatectomies are getting done robotically. That is probably something that we would bring in.
The other thing is that I think that there is going to become better screening for cancer. Two big areas in urology, other than minimally invasive, would be better cancer screening and detection so that we can differentiate who to treat and not to treat. New organs at some point, they are already in the process of developing things like bladders and that now. There will come a point when we use tissue that is grown in the lab to implant surgically.
There are some phrases you don’t want to hear over a plane’s intercom while suspended thousands of feet in the air. On Dec. 30, Amy Sorensen heard two of them: Are there any medical professionals on board? Then, a little later: Does anyone have flight experience?
Sorensen, 24, was watching “We are the Millers” when the first announcement sounded. She was returning from a family Christmas, flying United Airlines from Des Moines, Iowa, to Denver with 154 other passengers. Call lights started flashing almost immediately. She figured, there must be several doctors on board with more experience than me. She’d earned her Bachelor of Nursing degree from the University of Wyoming just a couple of weeks earlier and, while she had worked at Wyoming Medical Center since September 2012, she’d only worked the last six months in the Emergency Department.
But none of the call lights came from doctors. Responding flight attendants told worried passengers that they couldn’t give any more information and then moved to the next call light just to say the same thing. Only one other medical professional – ICU nurse Linda Alweis of California – had responded. When a second call came over the intercom, Sorensen flipped her switch.
We need you up front right now, the flight attendant told her. It’s the captain.
“I think I was just still shocked,” Sorensen said. “I didn’t know what to expect. But, by the look on the flight attendant’s face, I knew it was something serious. She looked frantic. She looked scared.”
Sweat had soaked through the pilot’s jacket by the time Sorensen got to the cockpit. His face was white and his lips were blue. He was covered in vomit. The copilot blocked his hands as he grabbed at the controls, obviously disoriented. He knew his name and nothing else. Heart attack, Sorensen thought, or something just as serious.
Are we diverting? Sorensen asked. We need to land as soon as possible.
Yes, the copilot answered. They were turning around to Omaha, Neb., the closest city with a medical center.
Sorensen, Alweis and another passenger unbuckled the captain and pulled him out of his chair. They lay him in the attendants’ galley, the small compartment between the cockpit and first class where attendants prep their carts. It had slightly more floor room than the aisle. Sorensen knelt next to his head, taking charge of interventions. Alweis took charge of medications and supplies.
Sorensen told Alweis to cut off his clothes and asked an attendant to gather all the medical supplies, including the Automated External Defibrillator – AED. The pilot had a heart rate of 200 beats per minute, suffering ventricular tachycardia with a pulse. In other words, his ventricles were beating way too fast to adequately pump blood through the body. He needed a short burst of electricity to shock the heart into a more stable rhythm, but the plane’s AED had just two buttons: on/off and a full-force defibrillate shock.
Sorensen gave him a nitroglycerin tablet, but without an equipped emergency room or a team of doctors and nurses, she went back to the ABCs – Airway, Breathing, Circulation.
“You are totally out of your element. You don’t know what you have to work with. I was just talking loudly to the nurse saying, man if I had this or if I had that, and they’d go find it. I said, ‘You know we need to get vitals on him’ and out of nowhere a blood pressure cuff comes flying at me,” Sorensen said. “At one point, I looked up and saw all these heads just leaning in the aisle looking down at us.”
The pilot’s blood pressure was 70-over-40, about half of what it should have been. His condition deteriorated as the flight continued. They put him on oxygen. Sorensen set up an IV and taught an attendant how to push the fluids through more quickly. When his breathing slowed and he started to lose consciousness, Sorensen administered a chest rub – a trick to arouse a patient with pain. She and Alweis worked on him for 25 to 30 minutes before Sorensen got scared.
I think we’re going to have to start CPR, she told Alweis. She knew that a patient’s chance for recovery decreased significantly once it got to that point.
Just about then, a flight attendant told them to brace for a rough landing. Sorenson grabbed onto the oxygen tank and her patient, trying to keep both from jostling around in the galley. The attendant asked if they could taxi to the gate.
There isn’t time, Sorensen answered.
The plane came to a stop and the doors flung open. Firefighters and medics removed the pilot while the plane was still on the runway.
Alweis and Sorensen stayed in the galley to help clean up and to collect their own composure. “It looked like a yard sale with medications and supplies strewn everywhere, just like you see in an ER when you get a critical patient. They were all traumatized,” Sorensen said. Passengers cheered as she walked back to her seat, but Sorensen could only think about what else she might have done.
Passengers stayed overnight in Omaha. Sorensen went for a glass of wine in the hotel bar and several passengers offered to buy her a drink. They all flew to Denver together the next day. The pilot had made it to the Cath Lab in time and was in stable condition, an attendant told her. Sorensen felt good.
“I’ve been an ER nurse for six months. I don’t know how I would have reacted if that had happened before my time in critical care,” she said. “My experience here (at WMC) and what I’ve learned from my coworkers has definitely taught me stuff to take out in the real world.”
Corrine Arross, Emergency Department senior nurse manager, agreed: “I do have the say that the girl is cool under fire. I’ve seen her in action and she’s got a good head on her shoulders.”
United assigned Sorensen a seat at the back of the plane for the flight into Denver where she faced a seven-hour layover. She was content to sit back, relax and maybe finish an entire movie that go around. One passenger wouldn’t hear of it. He offered Sorensen his seat in first class and didn’t let her refuse it.
As for that second phrase nobody wants to hear on an airplane — Does anyone have flight experience? — Sorensen isn’t exactly sure when she heard it in all the commotion. Sometime after she and her help pulled the captain from his pilot’s seat. Sorensen remembers hearing the copilot say that while she’d done it before, landing was more the captain’s duty. It wasn’t part of her routine and, if at all possible, she’d like someone in the cockpit with her.
“Fortunately, we had a retired Air Force pilot on board,” Sorensen said.
Today, Ninja Dorian checked off an item on his bucket list.
Air Methods, which operates Wyoming Life Flight and transports patients to and from Wyoming Medical Center, took Dorian Layton for a short helicopter ride around Casper. Dorian’s big brother, Julien, and mother, Krishelle, rode with him.
Welcome, Adelia Houser, to Casper, Wyoming and 2014.
Adelia, the daughter of Genneca and Eric Houser, was the first baby of the year born at Wyoming Medical Center. She came at 8:49 a.m. Wednesday, one week shy of her Jan. 9 due date. She weighed 4 pounds, 13.9 ounces.
Mom had contractions all day New Year’s Eve. They started getting worse about 1 a.m. New Year’s Day and she and dad, Eric Houser, arrived at the hospital about 4:30 a.m. At about 7:45 a.m., Adelia decided she wouldn’t budge, no matter how hard Mom pushed. There was no amniotic fluid and Adelia’s heart rate started dropping. Doctors decided they needed to deliver her by Caesarean section.
Adelia is Genneca’s first baby. Like many new mothers, she worried this morning that she wasn’t producing enough milk and that Adelia wasn’t getting enough to eat.
That will come, pediatric hospitalist Dr. Robert Benowicz told her. “She’s looking good, her vitals look good. She’s acting hungry, but babies do that.”
Adelia is the third child for dad Eric Houser who has an 8-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. The family will likely stay through tomorrow to make sure Adelia is eating and gaining weight and to give mother time to recover.
“I just know you’re adorable,” mother whispered to baby. How does it feel to have Casper’s first baby born in 2014?
“I’m just happy to have a baby. I’m pretty stoked about that,” Genneca said. “One little miracle is enough. It was a labor of love.
Wyoming Medical Center welcomed three new babies on New Year’s Day, but Adelia was the first. Welcome little Adelia, and congratulations to Genneca and Eric!
Christmas is a time of giving, and that rings true for the employees of Wyoming Medical Center. Not only do our employees take care of the sick and injured on a daily basis, they take their giving attitude out into the community to help our friends and neighbors.
This year, a few departments got together to give back to our community in amazing ways – check out their stories.
Sending Wyoming soldiers some cheer
The respiratory department adopted three Wyoming soldiers for Christmas. These soldiers are currently on deployment and without family. Each soldier received three gift boxes loaded with candy, personal care items and iTune cards to open for Christmas . Each soldier also received a stocking from Santa.
“This was a wonderful experience to participate in as it was our pleasure to provide for others who are keeping us safe and placing their lives on the line each day for us” said Gail Parker, manager of respiratory care.
A special thanks to Connie Wood for helping organize this event.
Stuff the tree
The WMC finance department raised over $300 to put toward gifts for our pediatric patients. This year they decided to decorate a tree and stuff it full of goodies. Items that were “stuffed” into the tree are for various ages and include: 120 stuffed animals, 25 stress balls, 30 toy cars, 12 decks of cards, 100 bracelets, 12 finger puppets sets, 12 soft sports balls, and coloring books.
A special thanks to Kylie Gibson, Ted Notestine, Paula Gorsuch, Martha Schuler, Chris Parks and Corie Perry for organizing this event.
Laboratory staff organized a food collection for the Restoration Food Pantry. Donations began Dec. 6 and will continue to be picked up weekly until Christmas. As of Dec. 19, eight bags of food have been donated to the local food pantry.
A special thanks to Dana Becker and Micky Hazen for helping organize this event.
Abandoning the gift exchange
This year, Patient Financial Services and Wyoming Health Medical Group Central Business Office decided to share the spirit of the season a little differently than they usually do. Rather than their standard department ornament/gift exchange, they chose to support a local charity. They sent out a survey asking staff which of three charities they would like to support. Meals on Wheels was the lucky selection and the departments raised a combined $300 total for the program.
A special thanks to Julie Stengel, Anita Neubauer, Llwetta Windsor and Sherry Bohannon for organizing this event.
If you do nothing else today, take the time to read this story from Casper Star-Tribune reporter Patrick Simonaitis. “Through sickness and health” tells about Thermopolis couple Marie and Bob Richter who have been driving to Casper weekly since June in a fight against Bob’s esophageal cancer. Tuesday, the couple renewed their vows in Bob’s hospital room at Wyoming Medical Center.
“We’ve had a great 36 years. We’re going to have 36 more,” Richter told the Star-Tribune.
The Richters have stayed at the Masterson Place since the summer, driving home to Thermopolis on weekends. The Pulse first met Marie just before Thanksgiving when she attended a potluck for guests of Masterson Place — a home away from home for out-of-town patients of Wyoming Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Oncology.
“Each week, they give us the same room. It feels like we’ve come home whenever we get here,” Marie told us then.
Last week, though, Bob took a turn for the worse. Doctors didn’t expect him to make it, but he hung on for another day and then another. Marie decided to surprise her husband with the renewal ceremony on Tuesday night, the couple’s 36th wedding anniversary, according to the Star-Tribune.
“I felt this was the best anniversary to repeat our vows because I didn’t know if I’d get to keep him or not,” Richter told the paper.
The whole story is worth a read, especially now with less than a week until Christmas.
The Masterson Place serves thousands of patients every year. At a cost of $40 per night with both short- and long-term rooms, it is a comfortable refuge for those who need it most. Each room has a small eating area, microwave and refrigerator. Through contributions, the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation continues to make significant upgrades to the Masterson Place each year. For reservations or more information, contact the Masterson Place at (307) 237-5933 or visit our website.
On Nov. 18, WMC Safe Communities kicked off its drunk driving campaign, “Don’t Wreck the Holidays,” at Casper College.
Thank you to our moving panel of speakers: Mike Reed from the Governor’s Council on impaired driving who spoke about how communities can work together; Deborah McLeland, mother of one of the eight University of Wyoming cross-country runners killed by a drunk driver in 2001; WMC Emergency Room doctor Lonnie Teague ; and Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen. Also thank you to Conner Washburn, a Casper College Criminal Justice student, who emceed the event.
The “Don’t Wreck the Holidays” campaign is a partnership between WMC Safe Communities; Casper College Community Criminal Justice department; the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department;, MADD; Wyoming Department of Transportation; Casper, Evansville and Mills police departments; and Natrona County Coroner’s Office.
December is a particularly dangerous month for drunken driving crashes. From 2007 to 2011, 29 percent of deaths in December car crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 760 people died as a result of drunk driving-related crashes during December 2011.
“While everyone knows that driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while impaired seriously jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on the road around you, we still see far too many lives lost each December,” said Sgt. John Becker of the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department.
Watch for our materials around Natrona County through the New Year and remember that buzzed driving in drunk driving. Follow these steps to ensure holiday celebrations don’t end in tragedy:
* Designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin, or plan another way to get home safely at the end of the night.
* If you are impaired, call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member or use public transportation. You can also ask servers and bartenders at bars and restaurants for a Safe Ride voucher for a free taxi ride home.
* Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.
* If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.
Pam Evert is the Safe Communities Program Director for WMC Safe Kids and Safe Communities. She has worked for WMC more than 21 years and is committed to improving community health in any way possible.