The vision of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) for “bringing loving care to healthcare” became the cornerstone of a 28-bed Intensive Care Unit addition at their primary facility, the Johnson City Medical Center. Under the leadership of President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht, a team of physicians, nurses, caregivers, and community representatives was established to define a healing environment that ministers to the mind, body, and spirit. MSHA team members believe that healing can exist without curing, but healing cannot exist without caring.

The journey began by partnering with Odell Associates of Charlotte, North Carolina. Odell took the recommendations of the healthcare team and started incorporating them into a workable design. Although the information was patient-centered, Odell faced many design challenges associated with the addition.

The first obstacle was adjoining the new addition to the existing ICU. This meant a portion of the construction would have to be completed over a third-story cardiology unit. Existing rooftop equipment would have to be relocated, with roofing systems being removed while keeping the building occupants below weather-tight and dry during the construction phase.

The second obstacle was access to the work area. The new addition had to be completed with minimal disruption to hospital patients and staff. All construction material and equipment would have to be hoisted to the roof by means of a crane.

To complete the vision and build the ICU addition, MSHA partnered with Johnson Controls, Inc., which became the project manager. Johnson Controls, a longtime Building Automation System Contractor, had a substantial background in construction and hospital environments. Johnson Controls used its experience in the healthcare arena to partner with Burleson Construction (general contractor), S.B. White (mechanical contractor), and Hodge Electric (electrical contractor). This proved to be very beneficial in helping MSHA's vision come to fruition. As a team, the contractors strived to complete the project on time and on budget with safety a main priority. The construction was scheduled to take 16 months from ground breaking to substantial completion. Work started on the project on August 31, 2003, and was completed on schedule, December 5, 2004, with the first patients moving into the new ICU on December 16, 2004.

Project category: Addition (completed December 2004)

Chief administrator: Dennis Vonderfecht, President and CEO, (423) 431-1009

Firm: Johnson Controls, Inc., (423) 245-5491

Design team: Bill McLellan, Managing Principal (Odell Associates); Jeff Lyons, Corporate Clients Account Manager; Jon Bickel, Project Manager (Johnson Controls, Inc.); Mark Moody, Senior Director, Engineering Services (Mountain States Health Alliance); Tommy Burleson, General Contractor (Burleson Construction)

Photography: ©2004 Tim Buchman

Total building area (sq. ft.): 42,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $362

Total construction cost (excluding land): $15,200,000

The new addition boasts many amenities that promote the well-being of patients and their families. The family waiting area is large, with ample furnishings and high ceilings creating a spacious effect. There are natural wood and stone finishes throughout. A two-story atrium was incorporated into the design to give the area plenty of natural light. Just outside the atrium is a 7,000-square-foot rooftop garden, a relaxing area that provides distressed family members a place to get fresh air without having to leave the building. Upon entering the new lobby, guests will see an information kiosk with an information technologist who will furnish patient information.

Each patient room is oversized and has a scenic view of the Appalachian Mountains. The rooms have two comfortable chairs that convert into beds for family members who are able to stay with patients when permissible. The rooms have Hill-Rom Prima Xtend dual arms mounted from the ceiling and containing all the devices required for ICU patients, including medical gases, patient monitoring, nurse call, etc. Because these devices are ceiling-mounted rather than on a wall, it allows the bed, located in the center of the room, to be rotated 360 degrees. Depending on the wishes of the patient and his or her family, the bed can be turned to face the corridor, television, or a scenic view of the mountains.

The journey of MSHA for a patient-centered and family-friendly ICU addition was complete. The end product is the result of what a state-of-the-art healthcare facility can accomplish by “bringing loving care to healthcare.”