The new hospital, which will be completed this summer, was designed to overcome some of the problems that led to the safety concerns. The patient rooms are all identical. Architects operated under the “same-handed room” patient-safety concept that is based on the premise that, in an emergency, staff knows where everything is no matter what room they are in.
Other small patient-safety elements include hands-free doors for infection control. Instead of knobs, there are metal triangles that open a door when pressed downward. Bare hands aren't necessary to do the job.
The growth in size flew in the face of conventional wisdom for construction projects in an era where admissions are declining, many procedures are being moved to outpatient settings and routine care is being decentralized. Yet the local community understood that Parkland remains the area's main teaching and safety net hospital, training about 55% of the region's doctors. “We need to be the mother ship,” said Lou Saksen, senior vice president for new Parkland construction.
One more reason for the size of the project is that the rooms are bigger. Units in the new burn center, for instance, have grown to 260 square feet, an 85% increase over the space allotted in existing burn intensive-care rooms. There will also be more of them, increasing to 12 intensive-care beds from nine and 18 acute-care beds from 17.
Departments have also been located for greater efficiency. Imaging is on the second floor sandwiched by the first-floor emergency department and third-floor operating rooms. Adjacencies were also taken into consideration when placing a rapid-response laboratory between the ED and intensive-care unit to provide quick results for tests performed on crashing patients.
“It's really light years ahead of the old facility, which was one wing built on top of another,” said Michael Darrouzet, executive vice president and CEO of the Dallas County Medical Society. The easy-to-navigate layout replaces the maze that exists at the current hospital and will be immediately noticed by the public, he said.