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Reimagining Our Future

Owensboro, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; Elmhurst, Illinois, and closer to home, Middletown, New York, are all locations where teams of medical staff, nurses, support staff and executives from the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) have traveled to see firsthand how new hospitals are changing the patient experience. The information and ideas gained during these trips will be used as the design process progresses for the new state-of-the-art hospital planned for downtown Utica. The new hospital would be the third new hospital in New York State in more than 20 years.

"Seeing the way the patient units were built and organized was very helpful," said Ajla Sinanovic, BSN, RN, nurse manager at the St. Elizabeth Campus. Sinanovic toured Orange Regional Medical Center, which opened in 2011. "The medical/surgical and intensive care units are completely different from the units at our hospital. It gave me ideas on how we can better design and integrate patient care on each floor of our new hospital so that related services are in close proximity. We are so grateful for this opportunity."

"As we began the design process for the new hospital, we felt it was important for our employees and medical staff to see new facilities to help them imagine our healthcare delivery of the future," stated Eric Yoss, MD, FCCP, senior vice president and chief quality officer. "I had the opportunity to visit new facilities in Kentucky and New Orleans. For me, as a physician, it's enlightening the significant quality changes a new facility brings.

"Our new hospital, like the ones we visited, will have all private patient rooms. Private rooms help to limit the risk of infection and provide better communication between the providers, both nurse and doctor, with the patient and his or her family. It makes for a better patient experience and gives the family a better opportunity to participate in care being provided to the patient. These new facilities have set up the patient rooms to ensure greater safety - something as simple as a handrail from the private patient bathroom to the bed to help prevent patient falls. There is side-by-side charting for both the doctor and nurse or the nurse and therapist. This ensures timely communication and supports greater teamwork."

Officials at MVHS and NBBJ, the architectural firm selected to design the new hospital, anticipate the planning and design process will continue throughout the summer with the new health campus design beginning to take shape in early fall and through 2018. NBBJ has been meeting with a broad cross-section of doctors, nurses, and other medical support staff to develop conceptual planning for the new health campus. They have also been meeting with members of the community including neighborhood and civic groups, business organizations, and more, to gain input on the design of the campus and insight into how to best integrate it into surrounding neighborhood. The meetings have been very productive in helping to create a new healthcare vision for the Mohawk Valley.

"The process of healthcare design begins with inside the organization," noted Jonathan Wilch, principal with NBBJ. "The teams look at the process of caring for the patient and then move to how to design the layout of the room, the unit and the floor to best meet patient needs."

The makeup of the different teams who have traveled to the new hospitals includes medical/surgical and specialty care nurse managers, leadership from our operating rooms, pharmacies, emergency departments and facilities as well as senior leaders, physicians and the Design Team. 

"NBBJ works very closely with the staff of each hospital we design to create a facility that is tailored to the needs of that client, their staff, and the population they serve," continued Wilch. "This is one of the primary reasons we invited MVHS to visit New Orleans and see the LSU University Medical Center and New Orleans VA. Through these visits, MVHS was able to see two brand new, state of the art hospitals and get many ideas that may help to shape the future of the new downtown hospital. Equally important was the opportunity to see that there are many different ways to achieve state-of-the-art healthcare."

A group of MVHS employees also recently toured Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst, Illinois, which was built in 2011.

"It was such an amazing experience to be able to tour a state-of-the-art hospital and see all the possibilities that a new facility offers," said Miya McCann, RN, clinical nurse educator for Psychiatry at MVHS. "From having 'on stage' and 'off stage' areas for visitors, staff and patients (respectively), to communication devices on all staff so overhead paging is no longer necessary, to screens throughout the hospital with coded information so family members can always see what step in a procedure their loved one is in - everything was created to give the patient and their loved ones the best experience possible. It was exciting to know that these are things we will have the opportunity to implement here."

"By doing site visits at new healthcare facilities across the country, the teams get to see firsthand new changes in technology and the use of space," noted David J. Connolly, senior vice president, Hammes Company and project manager for the new hospital. "They also get to speak with providers and staff who are caring for patients and families in the new environment and discuss what works and any new recommendations for change. It is also helpful for the teams to see how the new facilities are designed with flexibility so they can make changes as healthcare needs change in the future."

About NBBJ

NBBJ creates innovative places and experiences for organizations worldwide and designs environments, communities, and buildings that enhance people's lives. Founded in 1943, NBBJ is a leader in designing healthcare, corporate office, commercial, civic, science, education, and sports facilities. The firm has won numerous awards and has been recognized as one of the world's "Top Ten Most Innovative Architecture Firms" by Fast Company magazine. Clients include Amazon, Brigham & Women's Hospital, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Cambridge University, Cleveland Clinic, GlaxoSmithKline, Massachusetts General Hospital, Microsoft, NYU Langone Medical Center, Samsung, Stanford University and Starbucks. NBBJ has locations in New York, Boston, Columbus, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Pune, and Shanghai. NBBJ has extensive experience in the State of New York, having designed more than 250 projects in the State since 2000. For more information, please visit www.nbbj.com.

About Hammes Company

Hammes Company is the industry leader in the development of healthcare facilities and provides a full services approach including strategic planning, project management and ownership on a national platform. They are assisting MVHS with the programming, budgeting, scheduling and land acquisition and will oversee the completion though occupancy. Hammes Company has also provided expertise in assembling the other team members including architects, engineers and construction managers who have the experience and expertise in planning and implementing the scope of the project in New York State.