The staff of Firelands Regional Medical Center is preparing for a procedure that has been two years in the making.
Beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday, hospital staff will move patients into the critical care, progressive care, medical oncology and medical/surgical units of the new East Tower. The move, which could include as many as 58 patients, is expected to be complete by noon.
A command center, full security staff and extra personnel will be at the helm to handle any surprises during the planned relocation.
The hospital chose to move the patients on a Sunday morning because it is the period of lowest activity for the hospital; there are few visitors and there are no scheduled admits.
"And the good Lord will be with us," said Joyce Barnes, nurse director of the East Tower critical care unit.
The hospital began planning for the move more than two years ago, when the East Tower was little more than drawings on paper.
Last Sunday, more than 900 people toured the new facility during the hospital's community open house. Now that the tower has been sanitized, it is ready for the patients it was designed to care for.
The most stable patients will be moved first, working up to the most critical patients who will be moved last.
"We're planning for the worst case scenario and hoping we get the best," said Carrie Collins, nurse director of the East Tower progressive care unit.
From medication to meals, the hospital has planned every detail to make the transition as seamless as possible for patients.
"Patient safety is number one," said nurse Bev Schrickel, vice president of operations.
The vendors of the new equipment in the East Tower will be on site during the move to handle any technical hiccups.
"We've tested everything but you never know," said Darrell Boling, director of plant operations at Firelands.
Health Care Relocations of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, was contracted to help with the logistics of the move.
Last fall, five Firelands staff members traveled to a children's hospital in Washington D.C. to observe a patient move orchestrated by Health Care Relocations.
"The key thing is communication," said Greg Quinlan, project manager for Health Care Relocations.
"We just have to think quickly and on our feet," Barnes said.
During the transition, patient care will not be interrupted, Schrickel said. All emergency services will be available as usual.
Visitation will be restricted while patients are being moved, though emergency and critical situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Beginning Monday, patients will be admitted directly to the East Tower.