Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute is the cornerstone of “The New Saint Luke’s,” a reinvention of the more than 125-year-old Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City, Missouri, that updates the campus for the new century.

Saint Luke’s heart and vascular program features one of the 10 largest heart transplant programs in the nation and the only adult heart transplant center in the Kansas City area; now, the new heart institute incorporates new, state-of-the-art features into a campus that has always prided itself on being on the cutting edge of heart health, with a superior patient experience to match.

HEALTHCARE DESIGN Editor-in-Chief Todd Hutlock spoke with Renée Jacobs CHFM, vice-president of facilities and construction for Saint Luke’s Health System CHC, as well as ACI/Boland design team members Greg Highbarger, LEED AP, principal/architect; Victor L. Mosby, LEED AP, principal/architect; Sarah Anning, interior designer; and Rod Corn, FACHE, director healthcare initiatives, about the project.


Project origins

Renée Jacobs, CHFM: The “New Saint Luke’s” campus master plan project includes a tremendous amount of site work, a new energy center, parking garage, a new women’s center that includes women’s cardiac services, as well as labor and delivery, and the Mid America Heart Institute, which was the largest part, accounting for around two-thirds of the total project dollars. The heart institute broke ground once the energy center was complete in 2006, and was completed in the fall of 2011. The women’s center opened in spring of 2010.

This was the completion of that master plan; however, renovations have commenced in the part of the campus that used to hold the heart institute. The Mid America Heart Institute structure does have the potential to accommodate another four floors in the future, but there are no immediate plans to expand. It was designed to be essentially self-contained, including all new ORs, which were sized to accommodate newer technology and a hybrid OR.

The patient room sizes have increased and now include a separate family area with a separate TV, sofa, and desk, as well as additional circulation space around the patient for clinical staff. The improvement to the patient rooms was a driving motivation to the entire project. The nursing core is substantially larger and corridors were made wider. It really is a dramatically different space to our previous heart institute, in terms of space, technology, and the entire patient and visitor experience. It has successfully established its own identity on the Saint Luke’s campus.

Victor L. Mosby, LEED AP: ACI/Boland has been working with Saint Luke’s Health System since 1994; this particular project has been in discussion for the last decade or so. The process was very long, but also very deliberate and thoughtful, to ensure that the system was getting what they needed. We engaged not only administrators, but also staff and patients, in the process.

Our long history with the system also helped to inform some of the choices we made in the design. The vision was to be iconic; Saint Luke’s already has a great reputation in the Kansas City area, but they really wanted to establish this as a flagship facility. We knew we were building something that would stand the test of time and be seen as high-quality throughout its lifespan.


Integrating IPD 

Greg Highbarger, LEED AP: One of the things that Renée and I really tried to facilitate was the IPD process that we used on this project, and the ability to reinvest the saved dollars of the project to enhance the patient and public experience. We looked at how we were constructing things and tried to find different ways to put the puzzle together. We took a very close look at the structures behind the walls—the parts that the public doesn’t see—to really try to improve the process and achieve maximum value.

The integration of the IPD process got all the players involved thinking in a different direction. Often on a project there will be a core team that designs the space, a construction team that delivers that building, and there are so many departments in the hospital that aren’t included in the design process. We met individually with representatives of many of those services: environmental services, nutritional services, biomed, pharmacy, IT, and many others. The participation of those teams really made a difference, as did the use of BIM to take the project into 3-D—a process that was very new at the time this project began.


A new front door

Mosby: The street that was in front of the original front door was demolished when this building was built. The Mid America Heart Institute is now the new front door to the campus. Originally, it was really just a door on the street. This new entrance adds a presence to the facility by also taking advantage of the urban environment and burying the parking below the green space in front of the building.


Walking through

Mosby: The Mid America Heart Institute is a Center of Excellence for cardiac care. Visitors enter the facility on the third floor. From that point, visitors are directed towards surgery or to the cath labs, each connected by a public corridor. Private pre-op rooms for both the cath labs and ORs allow family to stay with the patient right up to the procedure.

The cardiac ICU and general patient rooms are all private and include a family area in every room, encouraging patient’s families to be involved with their care. This area, separated from the patient bed by a curtain, contains a pull-out bed, separate TV, and desk with Internet port. Each room also features a spacious bathroom with a zero-entry shower, reducing the risk for patient falls.

Adjacent to the two main procedure areas are the PACU and ICU, all on the third floor; the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors are patient room floors. From the third floor, visitors can also proceed down to the first floor, which contains the dining experience, more akin to a local eatery than a typical hospital cafeteria. Dining features include partnerships with some of Kansas City’s local culinary favorites.

Sarah Anning: When you descend the grand staircase onto the first floor, you see a seating zone, which will accommodate the many pick-ups that will take place in that area while also providing a relaxing place for a patient’s family to gather. This waiting area is adjacent to the gift shop. The combination of the gift shop glass and the high ceilings create an elegant and welcoming space.

Rod Corn, FACHE: The heart institute also contains a fully interactive strategy, which starts with a large electronic and interactive History Wall and Foundation and Giving Wall that are located in the main lobby, and continues with the interactive digital signage found throughout the facility. Because visitors are introduced to this technology immediately upon entry, it sets a clear tone for the interactive nature of the building.


Patient spaces and interior design choices

Anning: The patient floors were designed to facilitate a high level of family interaction, as well as fluid c
ommunication between the patient and the caregivers via interactive TV screens, which also allow for patient education.

The patient floors feature a mix of centralized and decentralized nurses’ stations, with a central station on each end of each floor, and a decentralized workstation off each room. These decentralized nurses' stations allow for charting, as well as provide views into the room. This structure allows nurses to work wherever they feel comfortable around the unit while also providing optimum patient care.

Because this building is the new front door to not only the cardiac services, but also to the hospital, we wanted to design something that was more hospitality-driven. It is designed to look like a comfortable hotel that provides a space that is welcoming and relaxing for patients and visitors. The color scheme is soothing and neutral, with contrasting accents of color. Color is used through materials that allow for change in the future. For instance, we kept the more permanent fixtures, like flooring and casework, neutral while we put our color into the paint and things that are easily changed.



Mosby: Saint Luke’s wanted the architecture of this building to represent that the quality of care found therein would be second to none. Therefore, how it integrated the patient and public experience was critical to our design of the project. The patient journey was a priority, including the parking and drop-off, wayfinding, and everything else that patients experience. We feel that we accomplished that mission with the design and execution of the Mid America Heart Institute. HCD 

For further information, visit www.saint​

Project Summary

Completion Date: July 2011

Owner: Saint Luke’s Health System

Architecture: ACI/Boland, Inc.

Interior Design: ACI/Boland, Inc.

MEP Engineering: WL Cassell & Associates, Inc.

Structural Engineering: Structural Engineering Associates

Civil Engineering/Landscape: HNTB

Construction: JE Dunn Construction

Photography: Duane Cash; Michael Spillers (exterior)

Total Building Area: 320,000 square feet

Total Construction Cost: Withheld

Cost/Sq. Ft.: Withheld