The team renovating the emergency department at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs has won a major national health care award.

Photo by Fred J. Fuhrmeister/Time Frame Images
Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, RTA Architects and GE Johnson Construction were awarded the American Society of Healthcare Engineering 2014 Vista Award for the teams renovation of the emergency department at Penrose Hospital.

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, RTA Architects and GE Johnson Construction Co. were recently awarded the American Society of Healthcare Engineering’s 2014 Vista Award.

The award, which recognizes teamwork in optimizing the physical health care environment, will be presented at the International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction in March.

Caregivers, facility engineers, design professionals, construction professionals and jurisdictional authorities drove the 13,300-sq-ft renovation of the Penrose Level II trauma emergency department. An integrated project delivery brought all parties and stakeholders into the process as design got underway. The team set out to deliver the project as quickly as possible, with no “swing space” and a vision to dramatically improve patient and staff satisfaction.

Weekly design, construction and operations meetings were established to review four-week look-ahead schedules and potential facility disruptions. GE Johnson combined the reviews into one vetted process to anticipate problems before construction began.

“Phasing was a significant challenge as we renovated the hospital’s ‘front door.’ It was essential to keep the emergency department fully operational throughout construction,” said RTA’s Paul Reu. The entire team was involved with the 10-month, 10-phase planning to ensure that all of the hospital’s critical functions and program elements were maintained.

Integral to the Penrose strategic plan was the need to reinvent the operation of the emergency department. Before identifying how the architecture would enhance this change, staff, management, an emergency department consultant and volunteers defined process changes for current and future community needs. These discussions brought new ideas for patient flow and staff interactions, all of which became key design elements implemented by RTA Architects.

For six years in a row, Penrose Hospital has ranked as one of HealthGrade America’s 50 Best Hospitals. The Penrose Level II Trauma/ED treats more than 40,000 patients per year. To further improve best practices in health care, specifically within the emergency department, the team’s overall project goal was supported with evidence-based design. These design features included transitioning to nurse pods instead of centralized nurse stations, which ultimately reduces travel distances and noise levels within the emergency department.

Project partners collaborated at all times to ensure that renovations increased the number and efficiency of patient exam rooms, as well as expediting the patient’s visit. The remodeled 13,300-sq-ft emergency department grew from 20 patient rooms to 27, replaced three open triage beds with three triage rooms and created a fast-track area for three patients. Patient-visit times were significantly reduced.

“This challenging initiative has generated a superb response from the Colorado Springs community,” said Margaret Sabin, president and CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. “It could only have been accomplished with the unwavering teamwork demonstrated among hospital staff, the design team and contractors.”

This is GE Johnson’s second Vista Award; in 1997, GE Johnson and RTA Architects received the award for a Surgical Suite Renovation, also at Penrose Hospital.

The award-winning team members include:

•    David Howard, director of Facilities/Environmental Services, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

•    Sean Mulholland, construction manager, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

•    Paul Reu, project manager, RTA Architects

•    Jessica Ramos, architectural intern, RTA Architects

•    Ashley Fritz, project manager, GE Johnson Construction

•    Ben Schlick, superintendent, GE Johnson Construction