From the layout to the building materials to the technology in each operating room, the devil was in the details when it came time to design a $39.6 million renovation and expansion at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital.
Equipment and monitors are boom-mounted to optimize floor space during surgery. State-of-the-art lights adjust based on the procedure being performed. Storage shelves have sensors that track inventory of surgical supplies, and they're located just outside each operating room in what hospital leaders call a "sterile core."
The improvements are rolled into the first phase of the Geneva hospital's largest construction project since the campus was built in 1991, said MB Johnson, vice president of operations. The work includes a two-story, 25,000-square-foot addition, plus some interior remodeling, to create 11 new same-day surgery bays, a waiting room, updated staff spaces and nine new operating rooms connected by one hallway.
"(The project) really represents a huge advancement in modernization and technology for our patients," Johnson said. "With the changing dynamics of health care, efficiency is really a key component."
Special attention was given to the standardization and configuration of operating rooms, which can now accommodate a variety of procedures from gallbladder removals to complex neurosurgeries, Johnson said. Some also contain robotic surgery capabilities.
The rooms are designed to be cleared and ready for the next surgery in as little as 15 minutes, compared to the current average turnaround rate of 25 to 30 minutes, he said. Communication devices, more accessible storage, low-maintenance flooring and solid walls help maintain the "overall flow of surgery."
After more than a year of construction, Johnson said, the new operating rooms will see their first patients Nov. 29. One existing operating room also will be upgraded in a subsequent project phase, bringing the total number to 10. Additionally, the hospital's former intensive care unit has been transformed into an outpatient waiting room -- a "much bigger and more inviting space" that includes physician consultation rooms, Johnson said. The 11 new pre- and post-surgery recovery bays are larger and more private than existing outpatient rooms, he said.
Plans to improve the hospital's perioperative services environment were included in a master facility plan created seven years ago, said Charles Cloutier, director of planning and construction. The project's design development began about two years ago, a process that involved input from 75 surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, technicians and ancillary staff members.
"Although the expense was one component that we had to take into consideration, a more challenging consideration was making sure we had adequate space ... to serve patients for the next 28 years," Johnson said. The next task, he said, was determining a phasing plan that wouldn't interfere with the hospital's critical ongoing operations.
"In reality, we're performing surgery one wall across from an area where we have an active construction zone," he said, pointing to an analogy coined by hospital President Maureen Bryant: "We're changing a bicycle tire while riding a bike."
The next two project phases, each expected to take about seven months, will encompass more renovations of existing space. When the work is completed, the hospital will have two new gastroenterology procedure rooms, new scope processing, more recovery and post-anesthesia care unit bays and surgery support areas, including locker rooms, break rooms and office space for billing, scheduling and pre-admission testing.
"It's been so many years of work, and we're so excited about it," Johnson said. "With our strong health system, we're able to do things like this and reinvest in the patients we serve, the medical staff who rely on us as partners ... and to support our local community."