New intensive care unit opens at Dartmouth General Hospital

Photo provided by the DGH Foundation.

The new Lorraine Elizabeth Brownrigg intensive care unit (ICU) at Dartmouth General Hospital is now open for patient care.

The new space is strategically located between the operating rooms and the emergency department, with diagnostic imaging across the hall.

"This will be invaluable for timely access to care and eliminate the need to use the elevator to transport patients to access care," said ICU health services manager, Holly Henry. "This makes it much more dignified for the patients and much easier for health care providers."

In addition to its new location, the renovated unit is larger in space than its predecessor. The bigger footprint allows for family to support their loved ones, without encroaching on health care spaces.

"Our new ICU allows us to optimally care for our critically ill patients, adapting to their needs," said Dartmouth General medical lead, Dr. Natalie Cheng. "There is significantly improved functionality and flexibility, a dedicated negative pressure room [isolation room] with a separate antechamber for safer gowning and removal of personal protective equipment, and a separate consultation room for important family discussions. These, along with the other improvements, will have an enormous impact on patients and the health care team."

Henry explains that the new ICU provides better care conditions for both patients and providers, including 12-foot ceilings, large windows and a skylight to help alleviate ICU deliriums and improve the overall workplace environment.

Additional new features and equipment include booms and patient lifts, and functions without head walls to provide more space for and easier access for patient care.

Henry explained the significance of this change. 

"With booms and lift, we can mobilize the patient earlier in their critical care stay, which is known to increase positive patient outcomes and shorten length of stays, and the without head walls we can function more efficiently in invasive interventions."

President and CEO of the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation, Stephen Harding explained that the ICU is named in remembrance of a donor's wife.

"John Brownrigg donated $500,000 in honour of his wife. They both would be proud of the work that went into the new ICU and the positive impact it will have on future patients."