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July 1, 2019
Designing a Better Space for Healing: CCH
To get a true idea of the time and effort that’s been invested in the expansion of Chester County Hospital and the renovation of its Emergency Department, imagine the undertaking as an iceberg and the construction as the part that sits above the water’s surface. We physically only see part of the larger picture. For more than two years, starting in 2015, the architects, Ballinger, met with clinical staff to seek their feedback on each of the areas operating rooms, Post-Anesthesia Care Unit, Intensive Care Unit, patient rooms and Emergency Department that comprise the largest expansion in the hospital’s history.
“There’s a lot that had to be worked out [before construction] because everybody had different views on how everything had to fit in particular rooms,” says Larry Bell, the hospital’s Senior Project Manager for the expansion and renovation. “So, a lot of time and energy went into ensuring that the designs met everyone’s respective needs,” says Jen Corse, the hospital’s Nursing Business Manager and clinical lead for the project. In each meeting, Ballinger architects would arrange a large-scale layout of the specific floorplan across a table and populate it with proportionate, 3D printouts of the various pieces of equipment that would fill the space. The architects and clinicians then discussed how they could improve current deficiencies and maintain other positive aspects.
Planning for a rapidly evolving future was also an integral part of most conversations, especially with the operating room teams.
“To try to figure out what the next 50 years is going to look like in an operating room is difficult to wrap your head around,” Jen says. “What kind of technology will be available? What will the equipment look like? You’re using your current day knowledge and a little creativity to try to understand an unknown. As one of the clinicians involved, it’s been a little daunting. You try to prepare for every scenario.”
“What we tried to do was provide a lot of flexibility in the design, to the extent that we could, in an effort to ‘future-proof’ the facility,” Larry says. The operating rooms, for example, will be especially large spaces that will be able to accommodate large equipment and added personnel for increasingly complex surgeries.
To aid the effort, full-size mockups of each of the floor-plans were also created in an unused corner of the hospital and presented to the clinicians. In the case of the operating rooms, that meant a 750-square-foot room and a 1,100-square-foot room complete with walls and equipment.
“It goes beyond just looking at a drawing and trying to guess, ‘Is this adequate circulation space?’ ‘Is this where we want to place everything?’” Larry says. “We even did an elevator mock up because one of the critical parts of treatment is patient transport in the elevators.”
The design meetings concluded before the start of the construction in May 2017. A similar round of sessions are expected to begin in the coming months and this time they’ll address how to best incorporate the new and updated spaces into the rest of the hospital so that they will function seamlessly. The project will include 15 modern operating rooms, as well as 13 Emergency Department rooms, three state-of-the-art labs for catheterization and other procedures, new areas for noninvasive cardiology and pre-procedure testing, 99 inpatient rooms, and a new entrance.