Raising The Bar At Owensboro Health Regional Hospital

September 24, 2013
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A steel cross-gate frame allows for floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural light, thus reducing electricity costs. The first-floor main lobby also gives visitors a view of the main courtyard. Halkin | Mason Photography. As the centerpiece of the campus where the three-story diagnostic treatment and nine-story bed tower connect, the main courtyard features a water fountain and outdoor seating, lending to the campus’s overall relaxing atmosphere. Halkin | Mason Photography. With 162 acres, several ponds, more than 1,000 trees, and an on-campus walking trail where patients, visitors, and employees alike can get fresh air and exercise, Owensboro Health Regional Hospital has created a comforting and healing environment, indoors and out. It’s also the first hospital in the world to be registered as a member of the Audubon International Signature Program for its land conservation efforts. Halkin | Mason Photography. Open land and the use of parking lots rather than parking structures make room for future expansion. At the previous location on East Parrish Avenue in the heart of Owensboro, one-way streets all around the campus made the hospital difficult to access. The new campus is located near Highway 60, which will have a direct off-ramp to the hospital entry in 2014.  Halkin | Mason Photography. A private courtyard and rooftop garden is accessible from the third floor of the women’s services unit, which houses obstetrics, labor and delivery, NICU, and the nursery. The “Aurora III” sculpture by artist Tom Corbin depicts a young woman releasing a bird, which represents hope, peace, and the human spirit. Halkin | Mason Photography. A private courtyard and rooftop garden is accessible from the third floor of the women’s services unit, which houses obstetrics, labor and delivery, NICU, and the nursery. The “Aurora III” sculpture by artist Tom Corbin depicts a young woman releasing a bird, which represents hope, peace, and the human spirit. Halkin | Mason Photography. The previous hospital facility had a combined inpatient and outpatient entrance, but now there are two separate ones for inpatient care and outpatient care. Both connect to the main lobby from which all services can be accessed. Pictured is the inpatient and visitor entrance.  Halkin | Mason Photography. The “Floating Seeds” sculpture by artist Mary Carothers, which descends from wood ceiling panels, is one of the first things visitors see upon entering the main entry lobby. Representing hope and healing, each of the 600 pods is unique, consisting of various seeds, such as mustard seeds, cottonseeds, flour seeds, and soybeans selected by members of the community, which were then cast in acrylic and threaded with fiber optics by local high-school art students. Halkin | Mason Photography. Located in the main lobby, the main elevators used by visitors provide easy access to all floors. Separate elevators are for transporting patients, while other staff elevators and hidden hallways are for moving supplies and equipment. Halkin | Mason Photography.  As shown here in the waiting area near pre-admission testing and the heart center, the hospital’s fluid design is meant to move patients, staff, and visitors faster, while also creating a soothing environment. Halkin | Mason Photography. Visitors get a glimpse of the hospital’s natural surroundings while in the waiting area near the outpatient entrance. Halkin | Mason Photography. A nurse alcove outside each patient room provides a view of the patient and monitors through a room window, giving fewer reasons to interrupt the patient. Tools and medicines are tucked away in a supply server but within the nurse’s reach inside the patient room or stored outside the room but nearby. In the previous facility, nurses walked an average of 44 steps to gather supplies, but now only take an average of 19 steps to do the same in the new facility. Halkin | Mason Photography. Inpatient dialysis rooms are conveniently located on the first floor of the diagnostic treatment center next to the ED and within proximity to the cardiology department, which provides treatment for heart disease, and preventative, medical, and rehabilitative heart services. Halkin | Mason Photography. The ED is located on the floor below surgery, which helps patients receive faster transportation and yields better patient outcomes. In addition, the helicopter pad is now conveniently located outside on the ground near the ED, when previously it was located on top of the hospital above surgery. Noise reduction was also carefully considered in making a pleasant experience for patients. There’s no overhead paging where patients sleep, even in the ED. Halkin | Mason Photography.
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The main lobby links the diagnostic treatment center to the nine-story bed tower, which functions as the primary hub to all services. While corridors in the existing building weren’t even up to code in some of its 1930s-era spaces, the new hospital allows for separate staff elevators and hallways where supplies and equipment can be stored or moved without crossing paths with patients or visitors. The hospital was also able to upgrade its HVAC and emergency power systems to enhance performance and reduce both its carbon footprint and costs. “We put advanced systems in the new building’s surgery suites to aid the surgeons and [to ensure] energy efficiency,” says Clay Seckman, SSR senior principal, healthcare program director. In the older facility, backup power was a major issue, too. “Systems designed in one era cannot always be modified or upgraded to meet expectations in the next. More and more medical equipment is desired to be on backup power, as the average acuity of the patient population is ever increasing.  More critically, many medical procedures are now expected to be able to be continued during a power outage and switch over to emergency power, instead of being interrupted.”

Owensboro’s private patient rooms grew in size from between 302 and 322 square feet to 400 square feet, to address patient comfort and wellness, as well as efficiency. The same-handed rooms also feature a sofa bed and desk table for visitors, and ample space around the patient bed for caregivers. The rooms were built with the future in mind, too, with a universal design that allows the hospital to adjust between services for more efficient day-to-day use as well as later expansions. “Whether it’s intensive care or standard care, it could flex over time with minor changes and without major renovation,” says Kurt Spiering, healthcare principal at HGA. “These are costs we’ve built into the plan for long-term use.”

Taking utilities into account was also a must in providing flexibility for the universal care rooms. “If a regular patient room is going to be repurposed to an ICU room, it impacts medical gas outlets, electrical circuiting, and air change rates,” Seckman says. “Those types of features have to be built into [the room] when you change the purpose. We could be flexible from an infrastructure standpoint, provide for future expansion, and not have to completely rebuild.”

Healing aspects of the design
Every floor in the nine-story bed tower has almost floor-to-ceiling windows, including the patient rooms, which let in natural light and views of the courtyards along the riverscape. Patients also have access to a main outdoor courtyard with a water fountain, an interior courtyard and rooftop garden within the women’s services unit, and an outdoor walking trail. “There’s something about looking at the fields, ponds, and trees, and being able to focus away from your issues, that helps the healing process,” says Greg Strahan, chief operating officer of Owensboro Health. In addition, natural materials were incorporated into the interior and exterior of the hospital to tie in with the surroundings and create a serene environment. “There’s an emphasis on drawing from natural materials, and colors and tones found in nature,” says HGA vice president Mark Bultman. “The exterior is largely clad in limestone along with some quarry stone from Wisconsin on the interior of the building. The warm wood tones are very calming for patients.”

A step ahead
With more efficient processes, easier access to services, and a health-promoting design, Owensboro Health can now offer a level of care its former facility simply wasn’t able to accomplish. Ultimately, the hospital hopes to boost its readmission rates with a new and much-improved facility that represents its commitment to providing quality, innovative care. “It’s provided us the opportunity to push the envelope,” says Strahan. With every aspect of care fine-tuned, patients can receive even more attentive care and the new hospital’s peaceful ambience not only enhances the experience, it helps the healing process.

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