Good Samaritan Hospital’s new $7.3 million, state-of-the-art Children’s Therapy Unit in Puyallup is scheduled to open in September about a block south of the hospital. The opening will culminate a multi-year project of fund-raising and construction to provide a new and much larger space to accommodate the hospital’s treatment program for children with neuromuscular disabilities.

The new 42,000-square-foot Children’s Therapy Unit will resemble the Biblical Noah’s Ark to symbolize the safe journey that children with special needs undergo through therapy in the Good Samaritan program.

“The new facility is definitely a dream fulfilled,” says Linda Yates, director of the Children’s Therapy Unit. “The space is designed to meet the needs of our children, their families and the program.”

More than 20,000 youngsters with neuromuscular problems have received treatment at Good Samaritan since its Children’s Therapy Unit was established in 1966.

Also, the hospital is on schedule to open its new Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory later this year. This addition will expand the hospital’s ability to provide treatment for cardiac patients.

The hospital is also expanding its west wing by 75,000 square feet to house an expanded Family Birth Center and the Health Rehabilitation Center programs. That construction project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2001.

Meanwhile, Good Samaritan Hospital has been ranked the top hospital in western Washington for its success in total hip replacement operations. That distinction was awarded by Healthgrades.com, an Internet company that rates healthcare facilities. When compared with 22 other hospitals in the western half of the state, Good Samaritan is rated No. 1 for having the fewest surgery-related complications.

Much of that success can be attributed to the Clinical Pathways program implemented in 1993. This physician-supported approach to patient care involves orthopedic surgeons, orthopedic nurses in the operating room and pre-op clinic, physical and occupational therapists, and social services.

The patient benefits from the comprehensive treatment offered by these disciplines from the day he or she is admitted to the hospital to undergo a total hip replacement. The philosophy of the Clinical Pathways approach is that teamwork by treatment professionals from various specialties results in better patient care, shorter stays in the hospital for the patient, and lower treatment costs.

“This holistic approach to treatment has improved patient care and reduced their lengths of stay in the hospital,” says Donald Mott, an orthopedic surgeon who helped implement Pathways at Good Samaritan. “Patients go home sooner and they go home better.”

The average length of stay for people who undergo total hip replacements at Good Samaritan decreased from six days in 1992 to 3.57 days in 1998.