With the opening of its new GI endoscopy center, St. Vincent's Birmingham now boasts a 20,768-square-foot facility with all general and interventional endoscopy services in one location.
"There's nothing better than having a state-of-the-art facility to practice gastroenterology in," said Craig Philpot, MD, medical director for GI Services at St. Vincent's. "The facility offers every type of GI service. The equipment is new, the facility is new, and it makes it much easier to give patients a satisfactory experience in a comfortable environment while we do our job."
Previously housed on two different floors, but with much of the same staff, the former layout could be confusing for patients and difficult for staff to coordinate. "We've added space, and our therapeutic rooms are now twice the size, which allows us more capabilities on our procedures," Jamie Lawson, GI Center manager.
"We were thoughtful from the beginning about taking the patient's perspective into consideration," Shannon Scaturro, St. Vincent's Birmingham vice president of operations, said. "We chose this location because it would have front door drop-off and pick-up service. It's convenient, with an outpatient look and feel to it.
"We even took into consideration the environment patients were coming into. They are greeted immediately by a receptionist in the waiting area. And we planned out the flow through the center to move patients efficiently through the system."
"We have installed a new imaging system to better enhance our ability to care for therapeutic biliary and pancreatic cases," Lawson said. "We purchased a top-of-the-line Omega Interventional Endoscopy Fluoro System, which is the gold standard in therapeutic imaging."
The Omega Interventional Endoscopy Fluoro System for therapeutic imaging.
"The Omega system is state-of-the-art for colonoscopy and endoscopy," Philpot said. "We also have a dedicated endoscopic ultrasound room. Endoscopic ultrasound is used for some of our more complicated procedures and biopsy of pancreatic masses and other GI cancer staging and evaluation. And we have a dedicated ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) room and a new fluoro system that's dedicated just to ERCP. It revolutionizes the visualization of the procedure and is the best that's available for looking at the biliary tract and pancreatic duct."
Equipment at the center includes high resolution manometry and Bravo studies. "We have advanced technology to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the functioning of the esophagus to help control GERD," Scaturro said.
"We are an end to end center," Lawson said. "We do outpatient diagnostic and gastroenterology emergency or therapeutic cases, as well."
New guidelines for colorectal screening were taken into account as the facility was being planned. "As a system, we have a commitment to colorectal cancer screening," Scaturro said. "The guidelines which came out just reduced the age to 45, so we needed to invest in our GI services to account for growth. We are investing in our community's health by building the center out to be able to take care of that population."
In addition to quality of care and patient convenience, St. Vincent's considered safety issues when designing the facility. "Radiation exposure is a safety issue we always have to address," Scaturro said. "This equipment helps reduce the amount of time a patient is exposed to radiation. And by nature of design of the equipment, it helps reduce it, because of lead barriers."
The center offers on-site pathology readings for many endoscopic procedures. "We often give the patients a result before they leave the GI lab," Philpot said. "Usually there's a 24-hour turnaround on other procedures."
"The on-site pathology readings are not available at many other systems," Lawson said. "It's a commitment of our pathology department here. Patients are already nervous, and they want answers."
"It also minimizes the number of biopsies we have to do," Philpot said, "because we already have a diagnosis, and we don't have to just hope we got it. It's a quality feature for both the patient and the physician."
After patients receive state-of-the-art treatment at the center, they are sent home with customized, printed patient findings, education information and care instructions.
"We have nine full-time gastroenterologists and six colorectal surgeons here," Philpot said. "It's a full staff dedicated to providing GI services to our patients."
The new GI Endoscopy Center can see patients with a variety of gastroenterological issues, including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Biliary disease
- Lactose intolerance
- Crohn's disease
- Ulcerative colitis