Danbury Hospital is considered one of the greenest hospitals in Connecticut, having taken a mammoth step to reduce its carbon footprint with the opening of a Cogeneration Energy Plant in spring 2011. Enclosed in an inconspicuous brick tower, this green giant quietly and efficiently produces more than 95 percent of the hospital’s electricity and 100 percent of its steam.
The Cogeneration Energy Plant is making the hospital green in more ways than one. In less than five years, the $17.4 million plant is expected to pay for itself; in less than 25 years, it should save the hospital more than $200 million.
Burning natural gas to generate electricity emits less CO₂, resulting in cleaner energy and a healthier environment, too. It reduces the hospital’s carbon footprint by 35 percent – equal to planting 94 acres of trees, or removing 2,469 cars from the road!
New Milford Hospital, too, is involved in the green initiative. The hospital’s café is a star example of sustainability through its food services, garden, composting and purchasing of local produce. The hospital also received a CL&P grant/rebate to install a high-efficiency boiler.
Both hospitals have committed to other “green” efforts, including the use of environmentally friendly cleaning products, recycling, installation of occupancy sensors for lighting rooms, and donating medical equipment and supplies to needy health organizations locally and abroad.
Meanwhile, other efforts are underway to increase Western Connecticut Health Network’s goal toward becoming a corporate leader in sustainability. Danbury Hospital is seeking to achieve a LEED (Leader in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certificate status, with the construction of the north Tower addition. The criteria include parking for energy-efficient vehicles, bike racks, use of natural light to reduce electrical lighting, water and energy conservation practices, and using local contractors and materials, among other measures.
Danbury Hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation services offer a higher level of care for patients who have experienced limitations from multiple trauma, stroke, amputation, brain injury, hip fracture, complex spine, orthopedic or cardiac surgery, and general debility.
In 2011, its newly renovated 14-bed inpatient rehabilitation unit opened in space on the seventh floor in the South building, where patient-centered care is delivered 24/7 led by Medical Director Beth Aaronson, MD. The inpatient rehabilitation staff has long offered a superior, success-oriented rehabilitation experience to a wide range of patients requiring intensive therapy and clinical oversight. Now, patients and their families enjoy the same high-quality care, but in a more nurturing, contemporary setting with state-of-the-art technology to ensure the best possible recovery.
“Our approach is patient-focused where the patient’s physical and emotional needs are met by a compassionate and dedicated staff,” said Dr. Aaronson. “As a team, we provide close medical monitoring to ensure optimal rehabilitation outcomes. We help patients achieve the highest levels of success possible using traditional and complementary medicine.”
Unlike other rehab facilities, Danbury Hospital’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit provides a clear difference compared to extended care nursing and rehab facilities, including private rooms and complementary services like massage therapy and a “Canines-4-Caring” program.
Radiologic care is often the doorway to healthcare experiences for many patients. Whether it is a routine follow-up or “something just doesn’t feel right,” it’s fairly common for a patient to leave a doctor’s office needing to go to a subsequent appointment for a mammogram, x-ray, or other test. In 2011, radiologic technology at Western Connecticut Health Network has grown, not only in locations with the affiliation of Danbury and New Milford hospitals, but also in quality with the continuing recognition of excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR) across the full range of testing and treatment services at both institutions.
Most recently, Danbury Hospital was awarded a three-year term of accreditation in breast ultrasound as the result of this year’s review by the ACR. Ultrasound imaging is a non-invasive medical test that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of internal body parts to help physicians diagnose and better treat medical conditions. Ultrasound imaging of the breast produces a picture of the internal structures of the breast. Both Danbury and New Milford hospitals are recognized as Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence, offering the full range of testing to ensure timely, accurate diagnosis of breast disease.
“We are extremely proud to receive the ACR gold standard of accreditation in breast ultrasound, said David Gruen, MD, Danbury’s Medical Director of Breast Imaging. “The ACR accreditation represents Danbury Hospital’s commitment to clinical excellence through high quality practice standards so that it can continue to provide top regional breast care.”
In similar fashion, New Milford Hospital was awarded a three-year term of accreditation in radiation oncology by the ACR and the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). Radiation oncology involves the controlled use of high-energy radiation to treat cancer. A radiation oncologist may use radiation to cure cancer or to relieve a cancer pain.
ACR accreditation will be a mandatory requirement for radiation oncology centers in the coming years. However, in its effort to maintain the highest standard of care for patients and to remain ahead of the curve, the New Milford Hospital Regional Cancer Center opted to secure this accreditation since 2001, prior to regulatory mandates. The hospital became the first in New England to install a CIVCO Robotic Couch for Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), providing patients with improved precision throughout their radiation treatment.
Maintained for all areas of radiologic testing at both Danbury and New Milford hospitals, ACR accreditation represents the highest level of quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting specific practice guidelines and technical standards based on a peer-review by board-certified radiologists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists of all aspects of the facility, personnel and equipment.
Western Connecticut Health Network has brought a wealth of new imaging technology in the community setting to patients through the affiliation of Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital last year. In addition to Danbury’s state-of-the-art radiologic care in four Danbury- and Ridgefield-based facilities, New Milford has invested in approximately $6.5 million of new technology to diagnose and treat patients with a variety of medical and surgical needs.
New Milford’s open-bore MRI provides a spacious design for greater patient comfort, while significantly reducing test times. The shorter “tunnel” permits up to 60 percent of examinations to be performed with the patient’s head outside of the MRI – making it ideal for larger or claustrophobic patients. The MRI was made possible by a significant gift from Dudley and Nonie Diebold and their family of Roxbury, Connecticut.
New Milford’s new 64-slice, low-dose CT scanner produces the sharpest images available with faster examination times and a reduction in radiation exposure by as much as 40 percent.
In its Regional Cancer Center, New Milford Hospital also offers the latest technology for cancer radiation treatment with a new linear accelerator, setting new standards for speed, precision, safety and patient comfort. New Milford was one of the first hospitals in New England to install a linear accelerator with a “robotic couch” for Image Guided Radiation Therapy. This technology enables a better rotational access to ensure that radiation beams reach the exact location and preserve surrounding healthy tissue – with a very high level of certainty.
These technological improvements were complemented in 2011 by renovations to New Milford Hospital’s Regional Cancer Center, Café, and Cardiac Rehabilitation and Fitness Center, providing a warmer and more welcoming environment for state-of-the-art care.