Sometimes it takes a personal crisis to drive home the importance of the choices being made in our professional lives as the builders, designers, engineers, or owners of modern healthcare facilities.

Over the past 20 years, I have participated in the construction of a wide range of healthcare facility projects. As part of that work, I’ve helped create a number of hospital mockups and offered plenty of input to the design and construction team.

I always understood as a builder that the needs of the facility end user, the patient, were paramount in configuring the hospital space—but it took my own health crisis to truly appreciate how important also are the needs of the support network of family and friends in shaping the most effective healing environment.

My personal journey began two years ago when I had a massive heart attack that landed me in the ER. I went on to ICU, where I was for over a week, and then to Cardiac Care for the final stage of my recovery.

Although unaware of my surroundings, I do know that my wife and three children were very present in this process, joined by a large extended family and a huge church community of friends who all participated in providing me support for healing.

Each step of the experience presented challenges with regards to where my family and friends could stand, sit, rest, or just pray for my recovery. There is minimal space allowed for in the ED, minimal or code-required space in ICU, and barely more space in CCU.

My children had to stand outside ICU due to limited room for the nursing staff and the doctors.

Through the skills of my medical team and sustained by a strong support network, I am happy to say I made it through this crisis, returning to work with a new appreciation and understanding of what the ideal hospital environment can be and of the importance of wider user input in creating these vital spaces.

When DPR and the project design team first began the review of its mockups as part of a recent Bay Area children’s hospital project, the owner team invited the parents of children who had been patients at the facility to run through realistic, scripted scenarios as if they were there in the room caring for their children.

They talked about the room around the bed, access to the restrooms, whether the kids could see the TV when they were spending time with their siblings, lighting, paint colors, and more.

These parents were impacting the design of this hospital and the patient rooms that would provide the healing environment for their children. The parent teams toured the new adult hospital mockups as well to provide input on adult space and family needs.

Mockups are necessary for physicians, nurses, and multidisciplinary care teams to experience the space and provide feedback. Mockups also help the contractor to analyze the space for construction sequencing, coordination, and prefabrication innovations.

But the key to the successful mockup today is how important it has become for the family member—immediate or extended—and family friends to provide input on the patient space to enable them to comfortably be part of the support network and healing process for the patient. 

George Hurley, Project Executive for DPR Construction, offers more than 30 years of experience in the construction and engineering of healthcare, education, commercial, microelectronics and data center projects. His extensive background and proven technical expertise include project evaluation, estimating, contract negotiation, budgeting and financial management, scheduling, and strategic planning. Actively involved in the application of Building Information Modeling, Lean Construction principles and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Hurley has served as project executive on several recent healthcare projects, including the $320 million Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project in Castro Valley, Calif., and the $300 million Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Patient Care Pavilion project in Oakland, Calif. Hurley is a graduate of Montana State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. Since joining DPR Construction in 1997, he has completed several major projects for the forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager, as well achieved LEED® Accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Golden Gate Chapter, in San Francisco; the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP).

DPR Construction, Inc.

1510 S. Winchester Blvd.

San Jose, CA 95128



Representative Speaker Experience:

  • Camino Medical Group Project Case Study, Benefits of Lean Construction and Building Information Modeling, UCSF BIM Summit, August 2006
  • Enhancing Integrated Project Delivery through Building Information Modeling, Bay Area IFMA meeting, August 2007
  • Camino Medical Group Project Case Study, AIA – Santa Clara Chapter Meeting, November 2007
  • Implementing Lean/Integrated Project Delivery through Value Stream Mapping, AIA National Convention, May 2008
  • How to use BIM to lower the costs of construction, maintenance and operations, Tradeline Processes for Facilities Management & Capital Projects, March 2009