John Sealy Hospital

Healthcare is constantly evolving, and as the treatments and methodologies change, healthcare facilities must change, as well. This can be one of the biggest challenges facing any healthcare organization, as it struggles to balance the resources available to it with the need to modernize its operations to provide the most effective care. John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas, is one of those facilities keeping up with the times as it engages in a modernization project aimed at allowing it to offer more family centered patient care.

As part of the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), John Sealy Hospital is located on the UTMB campus on Galveston Island, just southeast of the greater Houston metropolitan area. Built in 1978, the 12-story facility is named for its sponsor, who paid for the hospital’s construction in full through the Sealy & Smith Foundation. The facility is the main hub for UTMB’s inpatient care, featuring single-patient rooms and specialized intensive care units.

Assistant Vice President of Facilities Portfolio Management Kim McKay says the hospital’s design was in keeping with the methodologies of the time when it was built, but recent modifications in the way patient care is delivered have forced the hospital to make some major changes. “At the time the hospital was built, the move was to go to private rooms, but they were a lot smaller,” she says, adding that the typical patient room at John Sealy Hospital was originally about 150 square feet.

Today, however, hospitals are focused on more family centered care, where a patient’s loved ones play a bigger role in their recovery. Because of this, the original floor plans of the hospital seemed cramped and confining.

Big Changes

To better accommodate patients’ families and bring John Sealy Hospital in line with modern healthcare theories, UTMB looked at renovating the building for more spacious rooms. The $36 million project concentrates on four floors of one wing of the hospital building, McKay says. However, as the hospital combines two patient rooms into one larger room, it reduces the overall number of beds.

UTMB is addressing that concern with the construction of the new Jennie Sealy Hospital building. Demolition to clear the site for the $438 million facility will begin this fall. The Jennie Sealy Hospital will feature approximately 250 family centered patient rooms. Other features will include state-of-the-art surgical suites and intensive care space. The Sealy & Smith Foundation pledged a commitment of $170 million toward the project, which is expected to be completed in 2016.

As for the John Sealy Hospital modernization, McKay says the hospital will change 100 patient beds into 54 family centered patient rooms. Along with renovation and reconfiguration of these rooms, the project also includes some work on the core of the building, infrastructure and nurse’s stations.

In keeping with the emphasis on personalized care, the nurse’s stations are being relocated to put them near the patient rooms, with additional charting added directly outside patient rooms. One goal, she says, is for patients to have a visual connection to hospital staff. But rooms are being renovated with windows into the hallway to allow nurses to check in on patients, with blinds so that patients can still have privacy when they want it.

Musical Chairs

The renovation work has been scheduled in phases, with the first phase already well underway and likely to be completed within the coming month. McKay says phasing the construction has been extremely difficult because the construction is taking place between floors that are in use. “It’s a very challenging project within an existing, occupied hospital,” she says.

McKay says the project team has been planning work three to six months in advance to help hospital staff reorganize patients within the construction areas. Construction work is being scheduled around patient sleep schedules so that disruption can be minimized.

Space at the hospital already was at a premium because of damage done by Hurricane Ike, making it even more important that the project team meet regularly with hospital staff to coordinate relocations. Because the project team planned so far ahead, McKay says, hospital staff has had plenty of time to react to changes. “It’s been very successful that way,” she explains.

McKay says the majority of the construction is expected to be finished by December, with the infrastructure completed by October 2012. She says the results UTMB has seen so far have been very encouraging, and the improvements to John Sealy Hospital as well as the entire campus are a good sign of things to come.

“The rooms are going to be functional, aesthetically pleasing and very patient- and family-friendly,” she says. “It’s exciting to be able to see a project like this come to fruition. We have so much excitement here on campus. It’s exciting, a great time to be here and to be able to deliver such an important project.”

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