British triathlete and double Olympic gold medallist Alistair Brownlee MBE was the guest of honour at Airedale Hospital on 23 May to formally open the new Acute Assessment Unit.
His brother Jonny opened the newly extended Emergency Department (ED) in 2015, so in true Brownlee style, Alistair jumped at the chance to open this unit, which links directly to the ED and is the latest phase of the trust’s plan to provide leading edge facilities for patient care.
Alistair was given the task of cutting the ribbon, followed by a guided tour of the unit by Consultant in Acute Medicine, Dr Adrian Kennedy, and Assistant Director of Operations for Unplanned Care, Shaun Milburn.
The impressive new 48 bed unit was completed by Integrated Health Projects, the Trust’s construction partner. The design team was a combined effort between Airedale clinical staff, Sir Robert McAlpine, P+HS Architects, CAD21, Alan Wood and Gleeds.
Designed to ease patient flow, cut waiting times and reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, the new unit caters for patients arriving directly from the adjacent Emergency Department or for those referred by GPs for urgent care. Following initial assessment patients will either be treated and discharged from the new unit or admitted for on-going care to a specialist ward.
The unit features the latest innovations in ward design including large patient privacy screens with digital photography to provide a calming atmosphere and en-suite facilities in all single rooms and 5 bedded bays.
A generous donation of £60,000 from the Friends of Airedale charity has meant the unit also has the latest design in ward and bedside furniture, patient TV’s and items such as patient reversible mirrors, to minimise the distress associated with reflections for patients with dementia. The donation has also allowed staff to buy the latest design of ophthalmoscopes for eye examinations and patient thermometers to help in the early diagnosis of sepsis.
Shaun Milburn, Assistant Director of Operations for Unplanned Care at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says: “this is a fantastic facility for our patients and our staff and I am really proud of the way medical and surgical teams have combined to make the new unit a success. By putting acute assessments for medical, surgical and ambulatory care patients into one unit we are already seeing some early improvements in easing patient flow and cutting waiting times for diagnostics, pharmacy, therapy and clinical decision making. It is an excellent example of how NHS staff from all areas of the hospital work together to improve the care and experience for our patients”.