Green and red might be Christmas colors, but their sharp contrasts also will be important for surgeries in Hennepin County Medical Center’s new specialty treatment center.
Outpatient surgery rooms in the new $160 million facility, which opens in March across from HCMC, feature LED ceiling lights that can be switched from standard white light to an Elfish green.
It’s a relatively new innovation in surgery, especially in outpatient procedures that are more commonly done with small incisions and tools that doctors thread inside the body and view on video monitors.
Doctors often want operating rooms dark so they can see their patients’ anatomy on TV screens, but then nurses and others in the OR can’t see as they work.
“The green lighting gives them visibility but also is the ideal lighting in which to view TV images,” said HCMC spokeswoman Christine Hill. “It also does give the nurses some light when the room gets dark.”
Lighting is one of several innovations that has HCMC leaders excited over their investment, which they hope will entice more patients to see the downtown Minneapolis medical center as a place for all kinds of care — not just emergency trauma care.
“We’re phenomenal at that,” said Scott Wordelman, HCMC’s vice president of ambulatory administration, “but we’re so much more.”
The building will house 26 clinics and increase the medical center’s capacity for outpatient exams and procedures by 15 percent. Wordelman said medical center leaders are talking with executives at downtown businesses to get their health plans to feature HCMC as a medical provider.
Other novelties in the 377,000 square-foot building include a well-shielded flat screen television that people can watch to reduce anxiety while inside MRI machines.
The building design creates more of a hotel-like feel for patients who check in at kiosks and walk down corridors to their exam rooms. Workstations for nurses and other caregivers are tucked on the other sides of the exam rooms to reduce confusion, clutter and noise for patients.
“It’s the Disney concept of onstage, offstage,” Wordelman said.
Green surgical lighting wasn’t an option when HCMC redid its existing hospital operating rooms six years ago, Hill said. Research in more recent years has focused on this issue.
Japanese researchers in 2014, for example, had surgeons and medical students practice sutures and transfer small pegs with their hands in regular lighting and in lighting designed to accentuate the shadows on objects. The doctors were faster with sutures and dropped fewer pegs with the enhanced lighting.
Studies by Kenall, a Chicago-based lighting manufacturer, identified a shade of bluish-green that was optimal in surgery for viewing monitors and for distinguishing between reddish objects such as blood, tissues and veins.