Critical Care Building Opening Is in Sight

"We’re opening our greenspaces to the community, inviting them in."
--Oliver Rhine

When the new Critical Care Building (Location G) opens to patients on Nov. 6, 2021, it will be the outcome of years of meticulous planning and work of exacting detail to bring a longtime vision to life.

We’re ahead of the original schedule, and on budget, but there’s still much to do to prepare the building for occupancy. When construction wraps up mid-year, the complex work will begin of moving in equipment and training employees to work in the new spaces—moves that have been in planning for months.

The journey to this point has been a collaboration of hundreds of employees, patients, families, community members and workforce partners. All are essential in bringing to life a world-class facility roughly the same size as Location B combined with Liberty campus (not counting the Proton Center). The CCB will add 249 new beds within an innovative design that will enhance our already leading ability to deliver safe, exceptional care for patients and families.

The vision for Location G was born out of growing demand for our services. What gave it shape was our continuing desire to advance our mission and innovate on behalf of kids and our deep commitment to partnering with families and community—all of which support the aspirational framework of Pursuing Our Potential Together.

Meeting Growing Demand

The increased demand is something we have felt growing for years. Our inpatient census is nearly 40 percent greater than it was in 2010 (see table). At the same time, we have experienced significant increases in ED cases.

For years we accommodated growth by converting support space at Burnet Campus into inpatient rooms. This significantly reduced much-needed support space for our medical providers and teams, as well as space for patients and families, some of whom are here for months and even longer.

It was clear back in 2015 that we needed to expand. Shovels would meet dirt in 2018, a quick turnaround for such a complex project, and as we enter the new year, the goal is in sight.

“By the end of 2021 we will be able to serve our growing medically complex patient population in a world-class facility,” said Jim Greenberg, MD, director of the Perinatal Institute. “The CCB will feature many innovations that came out of listening to the families of those patients.”

Innovating by Listening

Innovation rarely happens in a vacuum. Great ideas don’t always pop out of thin air. They are more often the result of listening to the needs of others. And that’s what the CCB planning team did from the beginning by asking patients and families what would make the CCB a safe and comfortable environment for them.

Whether they were recounting their own experiences in focus groups, reviewing building plans, or even touring mock spaces made of foam blocks to get a feel for new layouts, families were engaged in every step of the process. The 15-member CCB Patient Family Advisory Council has been involved most recently in providing input on how best to use the CCB’s public spaces.

Their reaction to being consulted? Overwhelmingly positive. One patient said: “I really like being involved and making a difference within the hospital. I was excited when I was asked to join and have loved it so far.”

And the outcome of this partnership has been innovation. Centering the design on needs of patients and families has led to:

  • A patient and family support space more than 20 percent larger than the peer hospital median
  • A built-in pass-through for each patient room that allows staff to access trash and replenish supplies without disturbing the patient and family.
  • The only emergency department with a dedicated lab for clinical and translational research.
  • The first medical building to have spectral lighting, which was developed by Cincinnati Children’s researchers. Spectral lighting is a lighting system that generates wavelengths in the visual light spectrum to stimulate circadian pathways at the appropriate time of day and at the appropriate intensity, with the intent of improving the overall health outcomes in NICU patients.
“The CCB will feature many innovations that came out of listening to the families of those patients.”
--Jim Greenberg, MD

Partnering for Success

When first announced, the CCB was not welcomed by a significant number of Avondale residents, many of whom voiced their concerns about a large organization expanding into their neighborhood without having a stake in the success of the community overall.

Again, we listened. And we responded. Through grants and ongoing communication, we worked with community leaders, organizers and residents to help promote sustainable economic development and programming to create positive and lasting relationships.

“The community was very straightforward with us about what they wanted,” said Adison Nelson, director of Community Relations.

In addition to helping guide some planning decisions, community members are contributing to artwork that will be featured in the new building, including the “Fountain of Life” mural that will appear in the Location G lobby.

Community collaboration has also caused us to rethink how we approach the public greenspaces that surround the building.

“A traditional approach to these spaces is to close them off and limit their use to hospital staff only, using fences or signs or even security personnel,” said Oliver Rhine, assistant vice president of Planning. “Our approach will be different. We’re opening our greenspaces to the community, inviting them in. Residents of this neighborhood are welcome in these spaces any time they wish. We don’t just work in this neighborhood; we are part of it.”

Another key to our community partnership and investment is our commitment to workforce diversity and inclusion—efforts that lead to opportunities for people living in the area. To achieve our goals we have another strong partner: Messer Construction. In addition to their outstanding construction management, Messer partnered with us to set and achieve diversity and inclusion goals. With Messer’s help, we are exceeding our goals:

  • More than 26 percent of all work hours on the CCB have been completed by women and minorities.
  • More than 30 percent of our supply chain spending has been with minority and women owned businesses.

Planning and Training for the Transition

Once construction ends, moving our people and equipment into the new building will take weeks. Planning for seamless transition has already taken many months, involving representatives from every unit and specialty making the move.

Inpatient Pharmacy is first on the list, moving just over a month before opening. They are in the process of hiring 24 new pharmacy technicians. Besides training these new people, Inpatient Pharmacy manager Pete Shea points out that the team will also have to learn new technology, specifically their new carousel machine.

“It’s a huge machine that automatically brings our inventory to us, instead of us having to go find where inventory is in the pharmacy—like a very sophisticated version of a vending machine,” said Shea.

Most of the other departments transitioning to Location G address similar challenges—plus the basic challenge of learning the new physical spaces and workflows. To help, our Center for Simulation and Research is developing innovative virtual reality training.

“We’re opening a state-of-the-art digital technology center in April,” said Aimee Gardner, senior director of the Simulation Center. “Employees will be able to explore rooms and go through ultra-realistic, situation-based training exercises months before they start having to do it for real. The goal is to have a full, trained staff ready on day one to deliver safe, exceptional care.”

The Location G lobby will feature this ”Fountain of Life" mural.

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