Lessons Learned: Building a Hospital
Jim Shmerling, DHA, FACHE, President and CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado
Moving into a new hospital is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a hospital executive, an experience wrought with triumph and challenge. I’ve had the opportunity twice – that’s twice as many successes and twice as many lessons learned.
As Children's Hospital Colorado continues visible expansion on the Anschutz Medical Campus, I look back at some of the lessons I’ve learned in my experience as CEO.
No matter how many hands touch a project, no matter how much science we invest in its creation, we will encounter surprises. Building and moving is an art and science and the more we anticipate a process for dealing with the unpredictable nature of change, the more we can adjust to the challenging task of moving.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Before I came to Denver, I worked with a team that designed a state-of-the-art radiology department for a new hospital. Between the drawing board and construction, radiology technology changed and we followed suit by ordering the most up-to-date equipment. That new equipment required a room reconfiguration, a tiny detail we never communicated to the architects, a discrepancy we didn’t catch until we had completely built the department. We had to demolish the whole unit and rebuild for the new design, resulting in a two-month delay.
There can never be enough parking
When we built Children's Hospital Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus, we miscalculated the number of parking spaces we needed. We spent more than two years driving in circles, walking extra blocks and discussing in Town Halls before we finally completed a second parking garage to accommodate our employees. As we embark on more large-scale construction projects on Anschutz, we will, without a doubt, work to ensure we provide ample parking to accompany them.
Learn from each other
We invite physicians, nurses and staff to participate in the design and planning of a new hospital or department, since their experience can tell us what works best. We actively seek out best practices, combing the literature and speaking with our colleagues at other children’s hospitals. We’ve implemented some of those best practices along the way, like private NICU rooms and healing colors and light, because results demonstrate a dramatic impact on the improved clinical outcomes for our patients.
Our upcoming projects, in some cases, are as big as building a new hospital. I look forward moving in – the best part – and to possibilities it will bring to children.