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news News Thursday, January 16, 2020 Thursday, January 16, 2020 6:49 PM - Thursday, January 16, 2020 6:49 PM

Q & A with Laura Dearth, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Spokane operating room manager

Q & A with Laura Dearth, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Spokane operating room manager

We sat down with the Spokane Shriners Hospital operating room manager, Laura Dearth, to learn more about the inner workings of the operating room.

How many operating rooms does the Spokane Shriners Hospital have?

We have two operating rooms staffed by a medical team of four in-house fellowship-trained pediatric orthopaedic surgeons and a pediatrics-only anesthesia team.

How many operations are typically completed in a day?

It varies on volume and surgical complexity, but with two operating rooms, we have the ability to handle multiple cases in a day.

What makes the Spokane Shriners Hospital operating rooms unique?

Our operating rooms are specialized for pediatric patients only – there are no other operating rooms in town that are specifically pediatric orthopaedics! We utilize equipment designed specifically for pediatric patients, from equipment such as multiple pediatric positioners to padding material to fit each patient for their comfort while under anesthesia. We also custom arrange our surgical instrumentation for each patient to ensure that we have the precise instruments that complements the patient’s size. We never use universal instrument sets. Each set is customized in advance of the surgery. As a result, we have high efficiency in maintaining sterility and being prepared for every case on time.

What types of patient safety alarms and fail-safes do you have in place in the operating rooms?

We take patient safety protocols very seriously. There are humidity and airflow sensor alarms outside of all surgical areas. Our centralized monitoring system will alarm if humidity or airflow were ever to fall below the approved parameters. We also validate all of our supplies with manufacturers as an added measure to ensure they maintain sterility within the humidity regulations. It is our standard procedure to conduct time-outs and fire risk assessments for each case.

How does your team turn an operating room after a surgery?

We follow these steps after each surgery to prepare for the next procedure:

  1. Everything is broken down – all instruments and equipment are cleaned.

  2. The entire room is cleansed.

  3. We wait for the necessary “wet time.”

  4. We take cultures and conduct spot checks to validate cleanliness.

  5. Fresh, sterilized supplies are brought into the room.

  6. The room is now open and sterile.

This routine process ensures that we maintain sterile and safe operation rooms.

Do you have any new equipment in 2020?

We currently have a new Immediate Use Steam Sterilization (IUSS) sterilizer to ensure proper sterilization of all equipment and tools, and we are getting a new, large primary sterilizer later this year. The larger sterilizer will allow us to process instruments even more reliably and efficiently. We also have a new state of the art digital washer decontaminator, which has a shorter wash time. We are also very excited for a new, brighter surgical light that will cover more area.

What does the medical staff do when a surgery is complete?

Our surgeons and anesthesiologists meet and speak with the family immediately after the surgery is complete. The surgical team also updates the patient’s family every hour through the surgery. Each family is provided with a pager so that they can move around while they wait.

Are there some fun things that happen in the operating room?

We love to listen to all types of music! The genre depends on the surgeon or staff in the room. More often than not, kids are going to be nervous before their procedure. We try to ease them into surgery with some humor by calling preparatory work such as a nasal decolonization a "nose tickle game." We tell jokes and sing songs to patients as they are going under anesthesia to make them feel more comfortable.

There is a lot of teamwork in the operating room, it feels like family!