Milestone Complete!

by Amy Chovan

After nearly a decade of planning and building, the Milestone Project is finished, and the new Children’s Hospital of Illinois and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center will finally open its doors to the public this month. Every aspect of the new hospital was meticulously designed with patients and their families in mind, always keeping safety and privacy at the forefront while integrating the latest in healthcare technologies. The region’s largest privately funded development to date, the completed Milestone Project will allow The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis to continue their mission of serving patients with the greatest care and love.

Heal in Safety
First and foremost, the medical center is concerned with patient safety. The new, larger space allows for many advances, such as a dedicated pediatric pharmacy in the new Children’s Hospital of Illinois. “It’s a very important patient-safety feature to have pharmacists who do nothing but pediatrics because of the entirely different dosing and drug interactions,” noted Sue Wozniak, chief operating officer for OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. A barcode medication system was also implemented throughout the hospital, allowing caregivers to track and log each patient’s medications, further reducing the chance of dosing errors.

The new emergency department (ED) is made up of three “pods,” each of which can be opened separately to accommodate additional patients or completely closed off in the event of a bioterrorism attack or outbreak of a contagious disease. In addition to the 55 exam rooms, specially-designed panels that provide oxygen and suction were installed in the corridors to accommodate 20 additional temporary beds should numerous victims of a catastrophe require care.

Each of the exam rooms in the ED has a lock similar to those found in hotels, granting access only to those caregivers and visitors with coded keycards. Similar locks are in place on all nursing units in the new building, with the exception of the adult cardiac unit. “The world has changed,” admitted Wozniak. “We have all of these AMBER Alerts…and all these different dynamics in families. We need to protect these kids and make sure they’re safe and secure.” The keycard approach offers parents and select visitors easy access to loved ones, but limits access of the general public. 

For years, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois has hoped for a section of the hospital’s emergency department designed specifically for children. The new space provides enough room to do just that. “You almost have to build new in order to accomplish this, because the old EDs don’t have separate air handling, and it’s very difficult to retrofit and make that happen,” explained Wozniak. “We had a great opportunity to really build this the way it needs to be for 2010 and beyond, and we’re really grateful for that, particularly since we serve as the Level I trauma center and POD hospital for the region.”

Your Own Space to Rest
Another driving focus behind the plans for the new Children’s Hospital and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center was patient privacy. To that end, all patient rooms in the new building are private and include 24/7 sleeping accommodations for family members and other visitors.

“Historically, there have been ‘visiting hours’…I think as a healthcare industry, we’re recognizing that people need their loved ones around them at all times, and that we can actually give care with loved ones present,” said Wozniak. This arrangement also allows caregivers to teach patients’ family members how to provide continuing care at home. Wozniak believes that round-the-clock visiting hours is a trend that will soon be seen across the industry.

The ability to have family members nearby at all times isn’t the only advantage of private patient rooms. “We are taking every measure we can to prevent the transmission of infection between patients,” said Wozniak, “and private rooms contribute to that.”

Surgical recovery rooms will be private as well, with the exception of the first phase, during which patients wake up from anesthesia. “The minute they start to wake up,” Wozniak said, “they’re moved into Phase II recovery, and those are all private rooms, which is huge for patients.”

The new building also offers sleeping suites with private bathroom facilities in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), mainly for the families of neonatal patients. They are free of charge and allow parents to stay close to their new babies as they receive needed treatment. These suites can be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.

» Moving: The Final Milestone

As everyone knows, moving is a process, and this one began in January 2009—about a year and a half before the actual move. At that time, project teams were developed for each unit that was going to make the move into the new building. Each team then entered the first of three phases: identifying all workflow processes that would change within the

After nearly a year of planning, the second phase began, and project teams prepared staff members to occupy the new space. Detailed simulations took place during which staff members were oriented to their new floors, trained on new equipment and practiced caring for patients in the new space. All clinical staff and nurses went through this process once in June and will do so again in July. According to Milestone Program Director Matthew Warrens, nearly 1,200 staff members participated in simulation training, and another 1,000 employees in support roles went through orientation to the new building. “When you think about the size of our existing campus and workforce,” said Warrens, “you’re talking about almost a third of our staff that’s impacted in some way by this new tower.”

The third phase of the project was to prepare for the day of occupancy—deciding exactly how many staff members were needed, how medical equipment would be transported, what resources were needed to move each item, and the precise steps of moving patients.

“Each unit moving to the new building has its own specific challenges,” said Warrens. After determining how many patients each unit typically has, the project teams determined how many staff members they needed for the day of the move. “For a certain amount of time,” continued Warrens, “we’re essentially going to be running two units—one in the old area and one in the new area.”

Units will begin moving into their new spaces on July 26th, and by September 1st, more than 90 percent of the process will be complete. After extensive planning and training, everyone is excited to care for patients using the advancements the Milestone Project has introduced to the region’s healthcare community.

While the old NICU had up to eight incubators in one room, each baby will now have his or her own room in the new NICU. Not only does this give new parents more time to bond with their babies, it also reduces distractions that hamper their recovery and growth.

Nurses are no longer an arm’s length away from their patients, but large windows provide visibility between rooms and a new, instant alert system immediately notifies them when alarms sound on bedside monitors.

Noise and disruptions aren’t only detrimental to the healing of newborns; older patients are affected as well. To help maintain a quiet, healing environment, the new building features special service corridors that take the transfer of food, supplies and equipment away from patient rooms.

Along the same lines, there are also three separate types of elevators—for the general public, for transporting patients, and for staff members only. As Wozniak suggested, no patient in a gown really wants to share an elevator with strangers or have to smell food trays or look at linen carts while on their way to and from tests and procedures.

One of the patients-only elevators goes all the way to the roof and will receive patients from the helipad. Another is a dedicated trauma elevator for patients in critical condition. Significantly larger than the rest, it has room to accommodate multiple personnel and any medical equipment a patient might need.

Finally Under One Roof
The dream of having all parts of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in one place has finally come to fruition. Not only was the distance between units a problem in the past, but having to take patients from one unit to another in their hospital gowns was not ideal. “Consolidating all of that into one building is a dream come true for everybody, including the staff,” said Wozniak, “but the real winner is the patient. It’s much better patient care and much more user-friendly for the patient and family.”

The new building also allows for the expansion of existing features such as the Child Life Room and Teen Center. “We offer the Child Life Room [in the old building],” Wozniak explained, “but due to limited space, it’s combined with the Teen Center, and there isn’t much separation of big and little kids.” The new space will allow the two age groups to have their own areas with age-appropriate activities, and leave plenty of room for Child Life specialists to work with patients who need additional therapeutic care.

Directions Courtesy of St. Francis
Anyone who’s been to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in the last few years has probably gotten lost at least once. But, says Wozniak, “We’re hoping that, if we’ve done this right—and we think we have—nobody will get lost. That has been a guiding principle from Day One. Easy access, easy wayfinding, and of course, security.” While many hospitals employ the same colors and textiles on every floor, one of the goals of the Milestone project was to make each floor look unique, yet part of an overarching theme.

The search for something that could tie together all of the floors in the new building and help patients, visitors and staff find their way led to the Canticle of the Sun, a prayer written by St. Francis of Assisi in 1224, and a very meaningful theme to the Sisters. In the Canticle, St. Francis praises God through His creatures, each of which is reflected in the symbols and colors used to guide people through the new building.

“We wanted something everyone could relate to whether they’re Catholic or not,” said Wozniak. “You don’t have to understand everything about the Canticle of the Sun to understand the themes, symbols and colors.”

For example, the sixth floor, home to general pediatrics, has been themed the Moon and Stars floor, which appeals to children. Different shades of blue were used to decorate the floor, and signage for that floor will contain a moon and stars.

The lower level, housing the emergency department, has been themed All Creatures. Above it, the ground floor on which surgery and cardiovascular procedures take place is themed Earth. Our Heritage was chosen as the theme of the first-floor lobby and St. Jude Midwest Affiliate. Due to ever-increasing demands for healthcare, the second floor was left open for future growth. The third floor, NICU, is themed Wind and Air; the fourth, the pediatric critical care unit, is Water; and the fifth floor, housing the adult heart unit, is Sun.

Fulfilling a Mission
Studies have shown that when given the right environment, patients not only heal faster, but require less medication. Nearly 10 years ago, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center set out to create a revolutionary healing environment, and it seems, as their doors are about to open, that they have succeeded. By bringing the Children’s Hospital of Illinois under one roof for the first time, and keeping the family in mind when focusing on security and patient privacy, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center has certainly raised the bar for healthcare in central Illinois. iBi

Add new comment

This question is used to prevent automated spam submissions.