The New Hospitals: Meet the Doctors Behind the Changes

From the June 2014 edition
Dr. Leslie Mihalov, chief of emergency medicine, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Planning for Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s new $430 million hospital that opened in 2012—part of a $783 million expansion—began in 2006 before the health system had hired any architects. Physicians and nurses visited top hospitals around the country to gather design and functionality ideas. Then they worked with architects to ensure their needs—as well as patients’—would be met within the new hospital design.

Mihalov, who represented the emergency department during the planning process, says her department emphasized a need for more space.

“It’s not like a general emergency department because [patients don’t] ever come by themselves,” says Mihalov, who’s been a doctor in the department for more than 25 years. “They always come with a mom, a dad or an aunt or a grandmother. So you have to exponentially increase the amount of space you have for the lobby and even the exam rooms.”

Other additions Mihalov requested that came to fruition include a hallway that directly connects the main entrance to the critical care area for very sick incoming patients, a helipad adjacent to the building and ample parking. The result is an emergency department that’s two times larger than before, with 65 rooms, bright, uplifting paint colors and lots of natural light. —Emily Thompson 

Dr. David Schuller, CEO emeritus and vice president of medical center expansion and outreach, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

When talks of building a new Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and Critical Care Center began, led by then cancer center CEO Schuller, there were two overarching questions doctors wanted architects to answer: Could they design a building that would integrate research, education and patient care? And could the physical design of the space help patients recover more quickly?

“Those were the marching orders that we gave the architects,” Schuller says. The five-year project design involved consulting hundreds of OSU researchers and clinicians.

Answering the latter question proved simple—windows were added for ample natural light, green space was created on the ground and on a 14th-floor terrace and a hospital-wide audiovisual system will project live concerts to patient rooms.

To address the former requirement, the hospital had to expand its footprint, growing from a 12-story, 270,000-square-foot building, to 21 floors and 1.1 million square feet. This allowed related research labs, teaching facilities and patient rooms to be combined on the same floor. Researchers can now see their work affect lives, and patients get to see that experts are working to cure their disease.

“So much of our research now is done in buildings separate from where patients are being treated,” Schuller says. “Many researchers will go months without seeing patients. Now they are seeing them on a daily basis. Will it motivate them to work a little harder? That’s the working hypothesis.” —Beth Stallings 

Dr. Janet Bay, vice president and physician leader for neuroscience, OhioHealth

As builders broke ground on the OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital Neuroscience Center two years ago, Bay was spending a lot of time in the warehouse behind the Kohl’s department store on Olentangy River Road. That’s where architects designing the 9-story tower, set to open fall 2015, built mock-up patient and operating rooms equipped with furniture, cabinetry and medical equipment.

Bay and other OhioHealth medical staff members repeatedly toured the life-size rooms, using yellow stickers to mark areas that needed tweaking, like the placement of a monitor or a light switch.

“It was a very practical, down-in-the-weeds thing,” she says. “They offered a perspective architects couldn’t.”

“We are the ones who know what is good flow for patients, what’s convenient, how things work and don’t work,” says Bay, who’s been an OhioHealth neurosurgeon since 1986. She helped guide the 409,000-square-foot tower’s design, down to the width of the hallways and doors, and is pleased the setup addresses two of her pet peeves: noise and clutter. Small patient-care pods—one for every four rooms—eliminate traditional nursing stations, which are hotbeds for noise pollution, she says, while additional hallway storage ensures unused items have a designated place.

“The building is patient-centered for the comfort of patients and their families,” Bay says. “We’ve been planning from day one with that in mind.” —Michelle Sullivan

Dr. Martha Reigel, vice president of medical affairs, Mount Carmel St. Ann’s

Mount Carmel St. Ann’s $110 million expansion transformed the community hospital into a regional medical center. And for every update—a new pavilion encompassing two patient-care floors, a cardiovascular operating room and a cardiovascular intensive-care unit, a new open-heart surgery facility and a new main entrance—Mount Carmel physicians gave their input. Reigel ensured patient experience was at the core of every decision.

“We had meetings to establish all room layouts, where equipment would go, where to do rounds … the entire workflow,” she says. If you make it easier for doctors to do their jobs, Reigel notes, there’s more time to focus on the patient and his or her needs.

Reigel and other physicians met with architects and contractors to talk through the effect enhancements would have on patients. “Hospitals used to be built around the caregivers,” she says. “Today there’s an emphasis on the patient getting the right care at the right time in the right place.”

All members of St. Ann’s staff were invited to tour ICU mockups and leave sticky notes with recommendations. For the hybrid operating room—where physicians can perform endovascular and open-heart surgeries simultaneously—the construction team built virtual models and walked doctors through the space. —Jenny Rogers