Going Beyond Medicine

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Opening the New Hospital – Behind-the-Scenes

A lot of work goes into opening a new hospital. Some of this work is visible to the public but most happens behind-the-scenes so that patients and visitors experience a smooth transition – or first impression – of the new surroundings. In order to tackle this endeavor, several teams were developed and brought together within Columbia St. Mary’s (CSM). They were known as the Eastside Campus Integration Project (ECIP).

“The move and opening went extremely well,” according to Sue Ihde, Transition Director of the Eastside Campus Integration Project. “Patients did not notice a thing except for the transfer to a new room with great space to support their needs. This was the result of hundreds of creative and dedicated CSM employees committed to making this move go well.” 

Planning for the move began in April 2008. The project was divided into teams focusing on specific aspects of the move. Staff was assigned to each aspect to support communication and coordination of activities among the teams. Chairs and members of the teams were recruited from both of the eastside campuses and support departments.

The Operations Improvement Team

  • Assigned to the Eastside Campus Integration Project.
  • Worked with move consultants to create a plan to support the transition.
  • Worked collaboratively with managers and departments to determine supplies, linen, computer hardware and medical equipment needed to support work flows.

The Standard Work Team

  • Worked with the Operations Improvement Team to develop work flow processes over a 20-month period.

The Human Resources Orchestration Team

  • Guided managers through the staff placement process. All staff were placed and notified of their new work assignments by February 2010.

The Training and Orientation Team

  • Collected process flow, equipment and life safety information.
  • Developed a training plan for over 2,000 employees who required various levels of training. 
  • Implemented training based on the availability of equipment and supplies in each department.

The Communications Team

  • Coordinated opening celebration events, media events and development of marketing materials.

The Materials Department

  • Began working with managers in June 2010 to determine how supply rooms and patient rooms would be configured using mock set-ups at CSM’s distribution center.
  • Accounted for, stored, assembled and checked hundreds of items that came through the dock.

The Environmental Services Department

  • Repeatedly cleaned the new building and ensured it was always ready for state inspections, air quality testing, opening celebrations and tours.

The Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment Team

  • Helped managers with the purchase process for new equipment.
  • Developed a plan for the re-use of furniture.
  • Assisted in the completion of an inventory in preparation for development of the re-use plan.

The Facility Readiness Team

  • Orchestrated the following activities during a five-week period – which occurred from when the state approved the building for temporary occupancy and opening day:
    • Supply stocking
    • Installation and placement of existing and new equipment
    • Opening celebrations
    • Completion of air quality testing in specific areas
    • State inspections
    • Completion of minor construction changes
    • Training and orientation of staff and physicians
    • Computer network and telecom device placement

The Information Technology Team

  • Orchestrated the placement and programming of 1,400 devices.
  • Placed 500 new hardware pieces and moved about 900 devices.

The Move Logistics Team

  • Developed the move schedule.
  • Worked with the departments to identify offices and items that could move early without jeopardizing patient safety or operations.

The Patient/Staff Move Plan Team

  • Identified staffing needs.
  • Worked with the Move Logistics Team to schedule the order for the move of patient units and patients using 15 minute increments.

A unique move
The move schedule was unique and different from moving a collection of offices.
Because clinical and support departments depend on each other to provide complete services to patients, a group of 20 employees representing the various types of service were brought together to examine those interdependencies. 

The bulk of the departments moved between October 8 and October 12 by approximately 40 movers and hundreds of CSM staff. All inpatient, outpatient, and surgical services on the Milwaukee campus, and surgical services and portions of the outpatient services at the Columbia campus moved on October 9 and October 10. Fifty-nine patients were moved from the Women’s Hospital and 14 from Columbia Hospital.

During and after the move, a Command Center was in place to monitor and direct the move.  Special software was developed to take calls from the moving departments as issues occurred and needs were identified. Finally, volunteers were enlisted to greet patients and visitors and to assist with wayfinding and questions.

Columbia St. Mary’s Foundation would like to thank our committed donors whose support helped to build the “Hospital of the Future” and the dedicated staff that made its opening possible and a success!


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