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Three Reflections on Project Success

Dr. Herman, a radiation oncologist at the Sparrow Herbert-Herman Cancer Center, spearheaded the efforts to bring a facility to the community that would encourage healing, inspire Caregivers, and make the system proud. He worked tirelessly to meet the goals of Sparrow Hospital. After completing the project, he reflected on three areas to focus on when constructing or renovating your hospital:
  • First, be persistent and patient. Designing and constructing the right facility for your organization takes time and effort. There will be financial obligations to meet, design revisions to discuss, and construction obstacles to overcome that you cannot predict. Having a solid plan and good communication will help you succeed.

  • Next, think of the patient experience. When it comes to coordinating bathrooms, exam rooms, consultation rooms and comfortable waiting areas, think of how your patient moves to and from each location. Where does their treatment experience begin? How many rooms do you want them to transition between? How well does your building mute noise and provide lighting? If you can accommodate their privacy, comfort and services with the least disruption, they will be more at ease in your care.

  • Finally, think about your future. What services are you planning to provide in the next decade? Can your new building accommodate them? Will you run out of space before you complete your strategic goals? Think of how you can combine the use of spaces to meet several demands. Plan for modular meeting rooms and ensure your technology will help you along your journey to patient satisfaction.

Reduce Barriers - Invite Healing (Part 1)

A Three Part Series Dedicated to Patient Care

A cancer diagnosis entangles patients in a world of treatment, surgery and medications. Experiencing this new “normal,” for individuals and families, can feel confusing and scary. Sparrow Health System’s new Herbert-Herman Cancer Center is dedicated to reducing patient stress by instilling confidence and easing worry. 

Early in planning, the Herbert-Herman Cancer Center was, in part, the vision of radiation oncologist James Herman, M.D. Wearing blazing-red framed spectacles and a smile that warms a room, Dr. Herman speaks of patient comfort and quality of care. “Our key focus was on accessibility for patients and functionality to offer multi-disciplinary care.” 

Stress-Reducing Spaces
So how do you reduce patient worries and simultaneously provide a highly functional treatment space? You create a facility with fewer barriers, driven by safety and adorned with thoughtful art. 

It is widely known that cancer can feel like a solitary disease and treatment with radiation means time isolated inside a radiation vault. What if this space could be more open, welcoming, healing? 

After planning for the Herbert-Herman Cancer Center radiation vaults, obstacles were identified that could put the brakes on construction.

Facing the Challenge
The new building required radiation protection for Caregivers, the public and patients. For every project there is a convergence of materials selected (including required medical equipment) and available space that influences construction. Space, materials and foundations were put under the microscope at the start. The situation:

  • Sparrow’s tight urban site could only be positioned with vault placement near streets and local residents, requiring careful protections.

  • The weight of the massive foundations and walls put extreme pressure on the basement.

  • The amount of steel plate radiation shields in the three walls of the vault weighed as much as the entire structural steel framing. 

The Christman Company’s project planning group got to work. The team led value analysis meetings and rethought layout to solve these critical challenges.

Value Analysis and New Solutions: How it Worked
The Christman Company identified a radiation shielding solution that could address each concern. The solution to reduce vault foundation mass, securely protect neighbors and provide additional patient space (increasing radiation room size) was found by selecting modular Veritas blocks. The team also discovered that by rotating the vaults 90 degrees, vaults could share shields, reducing the total number of steel plates. 

The reductions of concrete and steel allowed radiation rooms to be larger. This also created the opportunity to include a maze-style entrance, rather than large radiation shielding doors. Radiation doors increase patient anxiety by creating the sense of confinement and isolation. Maze entrances reduce patient stress and fear.

Facility Advantages
Another benefit was the flexibility of block-construction, reducing barriers for future hospital expansion. High density, interlocking concrete Veritas blocks will allow planners to move equipment or replace large machinery in the future. 

The reduction in materials allowed costs in the new design to remain the same as the original plan. Plus, the end result provided patients with a larger, less intimidating room with fewer doors.

Dr. Herman said, “The process to build a new facility will take longer than you imagine, so plan early. And work with partners that you can trust.” Team trust is the driver to solutions that reduce barriers. 

Take a further look to see how this facility is positively impacting patient care.

Contact Christman’s Healthcare Services team if you would like to discuss opportunities for hospital-focused value analysis and constructability review by emailing John O’Toole, Vice President, Healthcare Services.

Experience Matters in DC Healthcare

For Rob Parr, the beginning of every healthcare project is a new adventure and the chance to realize his career goals. Each project presents an opportunity to achieve client outcomes and to overcome challenges where experience matters. As a senior project manager of operations in Christman’s DC office, Rob brings well-honed expertise and a personal commitment to his role as a construction partner.

It all begins in the earliest construction phase. Rob recognizes that pre-construction relationships with the owner and architect can build understanding about hospital operations. Through this awareness, organizations begin to identify key success measurements such as what matters most to patients, how to provide the most effective care-taker environment and how to balance budget, schedule and safety.

“An active, occupied hospital renovation is a surgically precise construction project. Often it’s like cutting apart a puzzle and putting it back together again. In this scenario, you have patients, nurses and doctors so you must get it right. This challenge and the opportunity to help people is what keeps me inspired.” - Rob Parr, Senior Project Manager, The Christman Company

No Two Projects Are the Same
Over the course of Rob’s career, he has perfected methods to understand each project. Firms must remember that all healthcare construction is unique and each project is critical for the care of the community.

To maintain the best operations at any facility, Rob finely tunes the planning.  He says, “It starts with a well-considered and organized strategy. If you don’t have that you’re going to have a bumpy ride.” At early site walk-throughs, Rob charts the location of halls, bathrooms, storage and patient areas. He identifies the locations of firewalls, utilities and materials access points. Knowing how to create a phasing and logistics plan that prioritizes uninterrupted patient care, could mean the difference between success and failure at occupied sites.

This early investigation and organization has given Rob a reputation for safe and efficient management of his clients’ projects. One recent project at a children’s hospital began with a tour alongside the facility manager. As the representative led Rob through the location (around multiple spaces) and up to the sixth floor, it became clear that the access for materials would interrupt care and create a safety hazard. Rob devised a hoist system on the outside of the hospital, so that no construction material was dragged through patient access points. He believes in “always thinking about the project through an innovative perspective to build success.”

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