If a child were to build a hospital out of Legos it might look like the new Children's Hospital of Michigan Specialty Center, an irregularly shaped, multicolored facility slated to open in February in the Detroit suburb of Troy, Mich.
“Everybody drives by it and says, 'I know that's for kids, but I'm not sure what it is,'” said Ron Henry, chief facilities engineering and construction officer at Tenet Healthcare's Detroit Medical Center, which is building the facility.
The look is appropriate because the facility is indeed for children. But the Lego analogy—building in pieces with the ability to easily convert the structure into something else—is apt for another reason.
DMC is one of a growing number of healthcare providers designing and building facilities that offer a wide range of hospital-type services without inpatient beds. The 63,000-square-foot, $44 million pediatric outpatient center in Troy will have a 24-hour pediatric emergency room, operating rooms for a range of pediatric surgeries, and outpatient care in several specialties, including cardiology, neurology and oncology.
“The building has everything you would imagine in a hospital—without inpatient beds,” Henry said.
Similarly, Montefiore Medical Center in New York opened a “bedless hospital” last year in the Bronx. The $152 million, 12-floor, 280,000-square-foot tower features 12 operating rooms, exam rooms, a headache clinic, imaging facilities and, eventually, a full-service pharmacy—but no inpatient beds.
These facilities offer a mix of telemedicine, imaging, short-term observation care and surgery. Technology allows patients to avoid being kept overnight for monitoring. Many routine checks can be done through remote digital technology. “You can set a patient up with an iPad at home,” said Erin Nelson, a consultant with Chicago-based real estate adviser CBRE Healthcare. “They can access discharge instructions, information on medication and video chat with a nurse.”