Long Beach Memorial Medical Center (LBMMC), the community's Trauma Center and the area's largest facility, needed expansion for its current needs and anticipated future growth, to enable it to serve the growing community.

In remodeling the existing Emergency Department (ED), along with expanding the department by 63%, LBMMC came to have one of the largest such departments west of the Mississippi. This involved carving out a single, unified space from the intersection of four independent buildings. Meeting patient and staff needs more effectively meant rethinking spatial organization. Walk-in and ambulance entrances, formerly in one location, were separated. To foster maximum patient-staff interaction, traditional corridors and examination rooms were replaced with suites. Individual pods can be opened or closed to correspond with patient load.

With the exception of specialty areas, the new treatment spaces have identical layouts and are universally equipped, promoting efficient patient care. Centralized nurses’ stations permit unrestricted patient visibility and access. Acoustical treatments provide patient privacy/confidentiality, and soffits provide noise control and visual interest.

Other functional improvements resulted from technologic upgrades. Admitting and charting are accomplished via bedside computers. A patient-locator system with full patient information can be accessed in designated hospital areas. Radiologic images are available via a PACS system. Energy management minimizes environmental costs associated with the HVAC system. A decontamination shower, with an independent exhaust system, bolsters emergency preparedness.

The ED was designed to enhance the well-being of patients and visitors, with features that include a “Disney”-themed mural in the pediatric pod and a wall of natural light in the lobby. The natural light and openness expand the waiting area, and imperceptible, bullet-resistant glazing provides security. The interior design, with its undulating soffits, earth-tone colors, and warm wood finishes, creates a soothing environment.

The ED remained operational without decreasing the number of original beds during the construction process, which was critical to the facility.

Project category: Remodel/Renovation & New construction (completed November 2002)

Chief administrator: Byron Schweigert, CEO, (562) 933-0567

Firm: Caruana & Associates, APC, (562) 595-5666

Design team: Edward J. Caruana, President; Eileen F.S. Amano-Peterman, Vice-President (Caruana & Associates, APC); Edward P. Butera, Principal; Dwayne G. Miller, Principal (JBA Consulting Engineers); Frank S. Bole, Vice-President (Myers, Houghton & Partners, Inc.)

Photography: Charles LeNoir, LeNoir Photography

Total building area (GSF): 28,700 (renovation); 6,300 (new)

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $204.87

Total cost (excluding land): $7,170,738