Thanks to a $4 million gift from Lockheed Martin, UCLA Health System's Operation Mend now has a state-of-the-art telehealth suite, which will enable improved communication between the program's personnel, patients and partners, and a renovated recovery area for the wounded warriors who undergo surgery at the Westwood facility.
The new Lockheed Martin UCLA TeleHealth Suite and Lockheed Martin Outpatient Recovery Suites for the Wounded Warriors of Operation Mend were officially dedicated at a ceremony on Nov. 18. The Operation Mend program provides reconstructive surgeries and other health care services to U.S. military personnel severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Lockheed Martin is honored to partner with UCLA and Operation Mend to make sure that our wounded warriors receive the best medical care possible," said Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin's executive chairman. "The Lockheed Martin Outpatient Recovery Suites and TeleHealth Suite will strengthen the capabilities of Operation Mend for the benefit of our military heroes and their families, and we are proud to support this important mission."
Lockheed Martin's gift provided funding for two important areas of need. First, the advanced telehealth suite sets a new benchmark for face-to-face telecommunications, enabling better consultation, collaboration and coordinated care among UCLA, members of the military, patients and other medical institutions, and fostering innovative new research in the field of regenerative medicine for military veterans and active-duty service members.
Highlights of the telehealth suite include three 65-inch screens with the ability to deliver three high-definition video streams simultaneously and one high-definition, full-motion content sharing stream. The system allows UCLA personnel to edit, manipulate and add to shared content through the use of a high-tech touch panel for optimal collaboration with colleagues and patients.
"Operation Mend is based at UCLA, but the team often collaborates with doctors, case coordinators or members of the military located in other states," said Dr. Christopher Crisera, Operation Mend's co-medical director. "Additionally, while patients undergo treatment at UCLA, most live out of state and return home after surgery. The new telehealth suite will allow face-to-face communication in many types of situations, providing improved communications as well as alleviating the need for travel to meet in person. Telehealth is fast becoming the wave of the future in medicine, and this system helps us advance the delivery of care."
Second, the gift supported the renovation of Operation Mend's surgical waiting room and pre- and post-operative recovery areas, upgrades that will enhance the patient experience during multiple surgeries and help the program better accommodate patients' family members. The improvements were part of Operation Mend's broader Ambulatory Surgical Center Enhancement Project, which also included the addition of four private patient recovery suites and four new high-tech surgical suites.
Following surgery, Operation Mend patients will be transported to one of the four renovated private recovery suites, where the post-operative team will monitor blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate and pain. When the effects of anesthesia have diminished, visits from family members are permitted. The enhancement project also included the addition of a private consultation room to create a more accommodating ambience for patients' families.
"On behalf of the wounded warriors we serve, we are so grateful for the new telehealth suite and renovated recovery room that were made possible by such a significant gift," said Dr. David T. Feinberg, president of UCLA Health System, CEO of UCLA Hospital System and associate vice chancellor for health sciences. "The results of this gift have greatly enhanced the physical surroundings where the patients are cared for and allow our doctors to consult with our military partners using the best technology available. Lockheed Martin's commitment to UCLA's Operation Mend program and all that UCLA Health System does for military patients ensures our ability to provide critical treatment for future wounded military personnel in the years to come."
Established in 2007, Operation Mend is a unique partnership between UCLA Health System, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. To date, nearly 100 men and women from all branches of the military have participated in the program.
The majority of Operation Mend patients have suffered severely deforming burns and wounds on their face, usually as the result of blasts from improvised explosive devices. After initial surgeries and rehabilitation at military hospitals, including Brooke Army Medical Center, the wounded soldiers have the opportunity to continue their recovery at UCLA and undergo specialized reconstructive surgical techniques with Operation Mend's plastic and reconstructive surgery team.
While the program started with facial reconstructive surgery, it has expanded to offer treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries and continues to receive consultation and support from the following UCLA clinical services: radiation oncology, dermatology, neurology, anesthesia/pain management, ophthalmology, orthopedics, maxillofacial/dentistry, medical tattooing, urology, and psychiatric and social services.
Operation Mend prides itself on the warmth and care shown to each wounded warrior.
Patients always travel to UCLA with family or a friend. They are personally taken to and from the airport, stay at UCLA's Tiverton House hotel on campus, are escorted to all medical appointments and have a nurse coordinator manage their case. There is no cost to the patient. In addition, each patient is paired with a volunteer "buddy family" that provides a social outlet during their stay in Los Angeles by having the patient over for family meals and coordinating fun activities.