Overlooking the busy North Shore of Lake Superior, the Lakewalk Surgery Center is a vision of perfect solitude. Nestled directly on the lake's scenic lakewalk in Duluth, Minnesota, the recently renovated medical arts facility offers patients and physicians a revitalizing view of the world's farthest inland freshwater harbor. Instead of rooms overlooking parking lots, city streets, or office buildings, the new operating rooms and private patient-recovery rooms deliver picturesque views of the expansive harbor and surrounding landscape. Giant ocean-faring ships pulling into port and famous rose gardens located just steps from the new facility offer patients a relaxing, even therapeutic setting for recovery.

The facility is steps from Leif Erickson Park and Rose Garden with direct access to the lakewalk along well-groomed walking paths. The warm-weather months find patients and visitors alike enjoying a peaceful stroll by the waterfront or just catching a breath of fresh air as they wait for their appointment, friends, or family.

Beyond Duluth's thriving shipping and tourist industry, healthcare has become one of the city's leading industries. In fact, the city is rated first in the United States for quality healthcare among communities its size. This industry boom has led to the growth and expansion of many of the healthcare facilities and services offered in the region, Lakewalk included.

The project, which spanned 12 months, required strategic coordination, intricate planning, and highly organized project management to keep it on track to become one of the most advanced and well-designed surgery centers in the region. To lead the project, Joe Majerus, Administrator of Lakewalk Surgery Center, called on SourceGroup to manage the entire renovation and expansion. Source Group, based in Minneapolis and Duluth, provides complete project- management services designed to ensure overall total quality management. DSGW Architects created the new look for the facility. The goal of the design was to make the facility a pleasant experience for patients and physicians alike.

The main hurdle that SourceGroup faced was coordinating construction without closing down the existing surgery center, making sure that no patients were turned away. Keeping the facility open, however, became a very delicate situation that required ruthless organization and coordination by both SourceGroup and the facility's staff. It was SourceGroup's responsibility to make sure that strict safety standards were followed while keeping the project on track for the 12-month completion.

In honoring its responsibilities to its patients, the medical facility vowed that every patient would receive the same high level of care while the project was taking place.

This meant that SourceGroup had to be extremely creative when scheduling work, while rigorously following the Minnesota State Department of Health's strict safety standards, as well as Lakewalk's operational standards. This meant noise had to be kept to a minimum, dust problems had to be considered, infection issues had to be reviewed, and certain areas had to be blocked off and contained.

Whenever a medical facility begins a renovation or construction takes place, the facility must follow strict, government-enforced infection-control risk-assessment plans and standards that must be adhered to during construction. The Lakewalk project was classified under the risk assessment as Type C and D at levels three and four—the highest level of potential risk. SourceGroup managed the situation without interrupting any surgery center revenue stream or breaking any Department of Health standards.

Host to 82 physicians specializing in 15 different areas of medicine, the facility was first established as a comfortable alternative to hospital-based outpatient surgery, offering shorter wait times, lower costs, and more comfort and privacy. When the original center was built in 1998, the design was based on a projected 25 surgeries a day. The newly renovated facility has already seen its patient load jump from 25 to 37 surgeries a day.

A total of 14,000 square feet were added to include additional patient prep rooms, procedure rooms, ORs, state-of-the-art ventilation systems, and floor-to-ceiling windows in the operating rooms overlooking Lake Superior. Before the expansion the main level was home to four ORs, two procedure rooms, and nine private patient rooms. The new multitenant complex now offers six ORs and three procedure rooms for a plastic surgery practice, arm and hand rehabilitation specialists, and specialists from the Gillette Children's Hospital, as well as Duluth Pediatric Dental and Northland Gastroenterology. Twelve private patient rooms were added, as well as a large conference and training center and 11 underground, heated parking stalls (worth their weight in gold during Duluth's long winter season).

Faced with daunting construction and design issues, SourceGroup, DSGW Architects, and the Lakewalk Surgery Center staff managed the hurdles and completed a stunning new medical facility. With the project a success, Lakewalk Surgery Center continues to prepare for the future by planning additional facilities and services to offer better care to more patients. HD

David M. Link is Vice-President of SourceGroup, a Minnesota-based firm with offices in Duluth and Minneapolis that specializes in designing and building healthcare facilities. Link has worked on multiple healthcare facility projects and is currently building a new Dassel Medical Clinic for Hutchinson Area Healthcare. Link can be reached at 952.476.8100. For more information, visit http://www.sourcegroupllc.com.