Suburban Hospital’s much-anticipated 300,000-square-foot addition opens to the public in March 2020. The state-of-the art building modernizes the entire hospital campus and creates better flow for patients, families and clinicians.
The new North Building, which connects to the original structure by a concourse, nearly doubles the size of the hospital while keeping its bed count at 228.
The North Building will allow Suburban to transition to all-private patient rooms in the near future. Currently about half the patient rooms in the South Building are semiprivate. As patients transition to the 108 private rooms in the new structure, all existing rooms will become private. The new building also replaces current surgery and procedure rooms, and adds a patient and family resource center.
“Years of work are finally being realized,” says hospital president Jacky Schultz. “This is what the community wants. They want to come to the hospital to be in a fresh, bright, private space.”
The North Building, dedicated on Jan. 24, includes 14 operating rooms, two catheterization labs, a procedure room for endoscopies and bronchoscopies, and a procedure room equipped with imaging equipment. A new hybrid operating room is equipped with specialized imaging equipment for use during highly precise vascular and structural heart procedures. Pre-op rooms and recovery bays are also new.
Some of the changes will undoubtedly enhance access to lifesaving care, such as creating a dedicated driveway entrance for emergency and trauma vehicles, and placing it as close as possible to operating rooms. Others are less dramatic, such as color-coded patient floors to improve wayfinding and a new prayer and meditation area that’s large enough for 12 people.
The North Building features a new main entrance with a soaring, window-filled atrium. Stairwells next to elevators are well-lit and attractive to encourage people to take the stairs when possible. Outside is a sculpture titled “Interplay” by the late artist John Safer, whose works also welcome visitors at Sibley Memorial Hospital and the Wilmer Eye Institute at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The building’s flexible design includes a medical unit that can be converted to an intensive care unit, a conference room that can become an incident command center, and a fourth floor equipped with a separate ventilation system, if needed, to prevent the spread of a pandemic such as the flu.
For patients and their care teams, the transition to private rooms is probably the most welcome change, says LeighAnn Sidone, vice president and chief nursing officer. “Having a private room is something that every patient wants, but until now we couldn’t give it to everybody,” says Sidone. “When you’re not feeling well, you don’t want to be with another patient. Hopefully this will provide a more restful, quiet environment for patients to heal.”
The new patient rooms are designed to comfortably accommodate clinicians, equipment and family members, including furniture for care partners to stay overnight. The rooms are set back from the main corridor to minimize noise, and are equipped with electronic communication boards that connect to the hospital’s electronic medical record system and provide at-a-glance information both inside the room and outside the door. The boards can show information on diet, medications, the names and photos of the care team, and contact information for family members.
Models of the patient and operating rooms were built off-site in 2015 before construction documentation was completed. Approximately 200 clinicians, patients and volunteers walked through and provided suggestions that were incorporated into the final designs, says Margaret Fitzwilliam, the hospital’s director for Capital Renovation Planning and Space Management.
One such improvement was to add leaves to patient room doors, so they can be opened about a foot wider for gurneys. Another was the addition of hallway water stations that make it more convenient for staff and guests to fill bottles or cups.
Suburban Hospital opened in 1943 and joined the Johns Hopkins Health System in 2009. The North Building marks its first major update since 1979, says Schultz. The work was done by Clark Construction Group, which also built the 1.6-million-square-foot Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center building and the Sheikh Zayed Tower at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2011. The architect is Wilmot Sanz.
The addition was made possible in part by $65 million in philanthropic support, including a $10 million investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation. This philanthropic investment continues a long history of generosity by the Clark Foundation to Suburban Hospital and to Johns Hopkins Medicine and University.
Planning for this project began more than 15 years ago with an analysis of existing facility conditions and future needs. It took several years to secure final regulatory approval from multiple state and local agencies, and construction began in 2015. The first phase of construction was the seven-story parking garage, which opened in August 2017 and vastly improved traffic flow, says Schultz.
Given the hospital’s limited footprint, the structures of both the garage and the North Building were reinforced with additional concrete to accommodate vertical expansion of an additional three stories each, if necessary. “We are building for the future,” says Schultz.