Patients will get critical care closer to home as WakeMed North is opening new ICU

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Monday, July 8, 2024
WakeMed North unveils new ICU
The new nine-bed intensive care unit opens to patients at WakeMed North on Tuesday, July 9.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- James Williams and his wife were at the emergency department at WakeMed North Hospital, where typically, it can be busy, with some patients having to move to the main campus in Raleigh for critical care because there wasn't an ICU at the hospital.

But that all changes on Tuesday, when a new, nine-bed intensive care unit will be open to patients at WakeMed North.

"It would be very accessible for me to get help right here instead of going way over there to the other hospital," Williams said.

The new ICU is opening as the only one in Northern Wake County, where there's been a larger patient volume in the past few years, according to Dr. Jimmy Lakey.

"We have a significant demand of ICU patients that present to the ED here at North," Lakey said.

"Covid was particularly difficult because we had some extremely ill patients who we needed to get over to Raleigh, and sometimes that was that was hard to do because you physically have to transport people."

Lakey, who's the medical director of the North ICU, said they'd typically send up to four patients a day to the Raleigh campus for intensive care, but the new ICU will allow them to provide better care while also ease patient overcrowding.

"It's very nice to be able to have patients come here who are critically ill and then get stabilized and stay here," Lakey said. "You want to get care as close to home as possible. It's easier for you, it's easier for your families, and we're moving forward to being able to do that for everybody."

Some patients who need specialized ICU care, such as extensive cardiac, or neurologic, may still have to go to Raleigh, but the nine-beds are seen as a win for the hospital that hopes to expand in the future and provide more beds.

"Our goal is to keep patients in northern Wake County so they don't have to transfer to our New Bern Avenue facility," WakeMed North senior vice president and administrator Valerie Barlow said. "That's a huge blessing for those patients who have to wait in the emergency room, have to stay on stretchers or have to stay in a room where they don't have a bathroom ... so really getting those patients to this beautiful room and have this high level of care is very beneficial for our patients."