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Claxton-Hepburn rechristens surgery suite for Newell

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Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center rededicated a recently completed surgical facility to name it after a prominent donor.

The newly christened Allan P. Newell Surgical Suite was part of a $9.9 million 2007 construction campaign, boosted by donations from Mr. Newell, of Hammond, and others in the community.

“Claxton-Hepburn is honored to have benefitted from Allan’s generosity and to have his name on our first floor surgery suite,” said Mark A. Webster, the hospital’s CEO and president. “This facility, completed in 2007, has helped make our surgery program safer and more satisfying to our patients.”

The operating rooms and preoperative/recovery beds are located on the first floor of the hospital, to ease the movement of patients and visitors to and from the surgical suite, said Cindy L. Clusen, Claxton-Hepburn Foundation executive director.

“It is really more of a traditional operating room,” she said. “These days most of the surgeries that we have are day surgeries, so there is an area in there that is a pre-op and post-op area.”

Ms. Clusen said Claxton-Hepburn has performed an increasing number of outpatient surgeries in recent years.

“This process started 20 years ago when surgeries were going from inpatient to outpatient,” she said. “Ten years ago that started to accelerate. Now 70 to 80 percent of our surgeries have gone from inpatient to outpatient.”

As more noninvasive surgical techniques are developed, fewer patients require overnight or multi-day visits after operations.

“It made sense to have our ORs upstairs back in the days when most surgery patients were inpatients,” she said. “They come back to the medical-surgical floor and they would have a hospital stay, but that doesn’t happen as much anymore.”

Ms. Clusen said outpatient surgery is also a cheaper option for patients and their insurance companies.

“We know that going into the future, this is going to be a continuing trend,” she said. “More surgeries that used to be inpatient surgeries are going to be outpatient surgeries. The government cares for these services. They would prefer to have them as outpatient services because it is less expensive. That is definitely the trend.”

The hospital’s older surgical suite, on the third floor, is still in use, said Ms. Clusen, but with future renovation and construction, the hospital hopes to consolidate surgical services to the first floor.

“We are believers in recycling. We are always renovating spaces and turning them into something else. Certainly we are reusing older facilities,” she said. “We didn’t retrofit the third floor because we wanted easier access for our day surgery patients, and because we needed bigger rooms. You want large rooms for ORs because of the equipment.”

Mr. Newell originally declined to lend his name to the surgical suite, said Ms. Clusen.

“I think he was simply undecided about what he wanted to do with it,” she said. “Recently, he essentially decided he would allow us to name it for him and we were very glad to do that.”

Mr. Newell could not be reached for comment Friday.

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