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Dome - A 3-D visit to the future of Hopkins Hospital

May 2011

A 3-D visit to the future of Hopkins Hospital

Date: May 20, 2011

Before the hospital’s new clinical buildings open, an easy-to-use virtual tour lets employees explore their soon-to-be workplace.

ncb virtual tour
The Johns Hopkins Hospital new clinical building virtual tour gives users a 3-D view of The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cardiovascular and Critical Care Adult Tower.

The new clinical buildings are complete and ready for action—or at least they are in the Johns Hopkins Medicine new clinical buildings virtual tour. Accessible to all employees with a JHED ID, the interactive intranet guide makes it possible for Hopkins Hospital community members to get their bearings well before the April 2012 move to the Sheikh Zayed Tower and The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center.

“The tour’s purpose is to help everyone transition from 2-D floor plans to a 3-D virtual tour of the actual space,” says administrative fellow Jessie Grafenberg. As a liaison for Hopkins Hospital, she worked with the Johns Hopkins University undergraduates who designed the tour under the direction of Deborah Savage, the university’s IT manager for student technology services.

Using the tour’s navigation tools, you can become oriented to your future workspace by clicking through a 3-D rendering that identifies patient rooms, work areas and other important landmarks. Will you be working in the neonatal intensive care unit of the Children’s Center? The tour can take you through every NICU nook and cranny, from the patient isolation rooms to the pneumatic tube station to the medicine alcove. Added bonus: Click on the equipment list for a particular space such as the medicine alcove, where, for example, you can locate the medication dispenser and refrigerator.

If you’re a computer novice who hasn’t ventured much beyond using e-mail, you can allow the automatic guided tour to steer you through the buildings, from one view to the next. If you’re more computer-savvy, you can take a self-guided tour by controlling the spin, pan and zoom features to wend your way through your future workplace, from up close and from a distance, from eye-level and above. You can even zoom out from your unit’s location to get an aerial view of the buildings in relationship to the East Baltimore campus.

“We tried to make it as self-explanatory as possible,” Grafenberg says. The tour begins on a home page where employees can choose between exploring the Sheikh Zayed Tower or the Children’s Center. A floor directory provides links to floor plan “mall maps,” color-coded green and blue for each respective tower. Once you arrive at your chosen destination, you may click to download the file and view it as a 3-D image.

Success guaranteed

As with many video and computer games, the tour is set up so that users can easily progress from the easiest level of use to the next, slightly more challenging levels. By the time she completed an introductory tour, Claire Beers, nurse manager of the pediatric intensive care unit, could effortlessly find her way around the PICU. “I think it’s fabulous that people can navigate electronically,” she says. “My computer expertise is mediocre at best, and it was very easy.”

Beers plans to use the electronic tour as a way to acclimate her staff to their new workspace before they move in next year. She also anticipates that the tour will continue to serve a valuable purpose in the sprawling new environment. The Children Center’s rapid response team, for example, is based in the PICU but, “they need a working knowledge of any area in the new Bloomberg tower,” she says. “They can use the online tour as a map to find out where they need to go.”

While the virtual tour only offers detailed, point-to-point navigation for clinical practice settings, it is also useful for surveying other spaces, such as the respiratory therapy and surgical supply area on B2, the emergency departments on the first level and the coffee shop and retail pharmacy on the second level. The tour will remain a permanent fixture on the Hopkins Medicine intranet, and new features, such as a training manual for the pneumatic tube system, will continually be added, Grafenberg says.

To take the virtual tour, go to on Johns Hopkins Medicine’s intranet site, where you’ll also find a wealth of information about the new clinical buildings. Along with the virtual tour, the recently revised site features articles, frequently asked questions (and answers), and descriptions of how workflow and processes will change in labs and elsewhere. As the move draws near, the site will continue to expand with information about plans for relocating, training materials and other valuable resources.

—Stephanie Shapiro