An open house was held Thursday at Robert Packer Hospital to show off two new units that will improve patient flow and offer state-of-the-art services in interventional radiology.

The public was able to tour Guthrie's new observation care unit, a 16-bed facility, and interventional radiology suite on the fourth floor of the hospital Thursday afternoon.

The observation care unit, which will begin taking patients next week, will be used for short-term patient treatment and assessment taking less than a day, said Lisa Gibbs, the unit's nurse manager. During the observation time, a physician will decide whether to admit observation patients to the hospital.

The observation unit frees up space in the emergency room and other hospital wings while providing the same level of care one would receive elsewhere in the hospital, Gibbs said.

The rooms were designed to provide a relaxing atmosphere and provide patients with privacy and comfort during the monitoring period. Gibbs said several people have commented that the unit more resembles a hotel than a hospital, with calming colors and design elements.

The rooms were also designed to be able to accommodate visitors. "It's really geared for families," Gibbs said.

Patients from the cath lab and bronchial suite will utilize the observation unit, as will surgical observation patients and patients from the emergency department that require additional monitoring.

The observation unit is also located directly next to the interventional radiology suite, allowing patients of the program to easily move to the unit for recovery purposes, Gibbs said.

The interventional radiology suite is outfitted with state-of-the-art imaging, radiographic and ultrasound equipment. The new equipment features computerized needle guidance, three-dimensional moving X-ray images and a large high-resolution display, increasing the ease of providing interventional radiology services, said Dr. David Channin, radiology department chair.

Interventional radiology involves using images to place needles and catheters into patients for a variety of procedures, Channin said.

The new equipment is particularly useful in oncologic imaging for cancer patients, he said, allowing doctors to perform biopsies, inject chemotherapy directly into tumors, freeze and burn tumors and perform other procedures that diagnose and treat cancers.

"Guthrie Cancer Center is growing very rapidly," Channin said. The new equipment "expands our capacity to offer these services."

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.