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COLUMBIA - Wednesday marked the first day for Truman Veterans' Hospital's brand new intensive care unit.

The new unit is equipped with what employees call new "live-saving equipment." That includes new monitors better suited to assess patients with heart conditions.

ICU Nurse Manager Karen Cronacher said the transition went smoothly and hospital personnel from all over worked together to make sure the center opened up without a problem.

"The process was safe and that's what's important," Cronacher said. "We had everyone from all disciplines come to pitch in."

Cronacher said the plans for this have been in the works for a while now but construction broke ground for it about a year ago.

"This new ICU is closer to the operating room so it's much safer for patients coming from surgery to move up one floor as opposed to many." 

The new unit adds almost 13,000 square feet to the area dedicated for intensive care and will allow the hospital to house more patients.

"We have a much bigger space, two new beds and equipment that will help us provide the better care," Cronacher said.

Public Affairs Officer Larry Gaither said the new upgrades are a part of the hospital's commitment to providing modern care for veterans.

"The ultimate goal is to modernize the hospital to more effectively provide care for people who've dedicated so much to this country," Gaither said.

The next phase of the hospital's upgrade will include a brand new surgical unit that will be located right down the hall from the new ICU.