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Dome - Building a Renaissance

Dome April 2013

Building a Renaissance

By: Ronald R. Peterson
Date: April 15, 2013

Ron Peterson
photo by Will Kirk

Last year, the days of April 29 through May 1 were a time of enormous excitement and achievement. Thanks to the tremendous work of our staff, we moved 271 patients from what we now call the legacy buildings of The Johns Hopkins Hospital to the Sheikh Zayed Tower and The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center, and opened the newest state-of-the-art health care facilities in the nation.

It took years of intricate planning and days of trial runs. When it was over, I could not have been more proud of what you accomplished.

As we approach the end of our first year of occupancy, I am just as pleased with what the new buildings have meant to patients and their families and your role in making that happen. Our goal was to design and construct an environment that would embody the concept of patient- and family-centered care and create a calm, healing atmosphere.

I am happy to say we met that challenge. How do I know? One of the best examples I can point to is the nature of the letters I receive from patients and family members. Since the hospital opened, most of these letters have been very positive. When patients are happy, they tend not to write me. The fact that they are taking the time to share their favorable experiences is significant. 

Most often, these letters are about the positive interaction patients have had with their caregivers—further demonstration that you have embraced the new care delivery model.

We also know from satisfaction scores and survey comments that patients are extremely pleased with the hospital’s substantial improvements. They like the higher degree of privacy the one-bed hospital rooms bring. To me, this is the most important improvement, not only because it makes the rooms more comfortable for patients and families, but it also greatly reduces the possibility of infections and ultimately harm to patients.

They like that family members can stay overnight with adult patients as well as pediatric patients. Patients and family members have told us they appreciate the architecture of the buildings and the artwork, which they feel makes their stay less intimidating and more calming and caring. 

It has not all been perfect. With such an enormous facility, there are bound to be some things that do not go right operationally. We’ve had ours. For example, we underestimated the time and personnel required to keep such a large facility clean. And the pneumatic tube system, which handles more than 7,500 transactions daily, did not live up to expectations for speed and efficiency of delivering lab specimens.

One unintended consequence of “build it and they will come” is that our new Emergency Department has seen a very significant increase in patient volumes. This not only puts pressure on the ED staff, but also on our ability to admit patients from the ED. We have needed to add more beds, especially within the Department of Medicine.

Despite these and a few other issues we have worked hard to address, I am enormously pleased that we have achieved our goal of having a hospital that practices the best patient- and family-centered care. As we continue to improve our hospital, we are also focusing on renovating some of our legacy buildings to reach the same goal.

Our biggest project is redeveloping the 30-year-old Nelson Building for the Department of Medicine, updating the standards to mirror those in the new buildings and adding 136 modern, private patient rooms. We are also renovating the Meyer Building for patient care purposes, and most likely turning much of the Children’s Medical and Surgical Center into faculty offices.

My bottom line is that with patients and families feeling much better about the hospital environment, and caregivers and other staff feeling better about their workplace, it means we are delivering safer and higher-quality care. I cannot ask for better than that.