Pediatric Tower taking shape, simulations drive design for safe patient care

102716towere640“It’s amazing how quickly the pediatric tower is being built,” said WenZheng Zhang, an administrative coordinator at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, as he observed the progress from his15th floor window at the Feigin Center. “It’s like watching ants use one LEGO block at a time to build the whole tower.”

Last December, the only visible sign of construction was the installation of the tower crane that was hoisted over the south end of Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. Nearly one year later, tremendous progress has been made on the pediatric tower’s 19-floor vertical expansion project.

“We’re thrilled to see all of the pieces coming together,” said Jill Pearsall, Texas Children’s assistant vice president of Facilities Planning and Development. “So far, we’ve completed 12 floors, added 17 new elevators, and we have begun installing our Texas granite exterior walls on the structure.”

Beyond these visible achievements, lots of progress is also being made inside the tower. Earlier this year, a series of simulation activities were conducted to ensure the final layout of the pediatric tower would be designed in a way that promotes the safest possible environments to care for our critically ill patients and their families.

In June, Dr. Jennifer Arnold’s simulation team and the CareFirst Quality, Service and Safety Project Team led by Dr. Angelo Giardino, Trudy Leidich and Maria Happe, successfully completed two pre-construction simulation-based design tests on the proposed layouts for the OR/MRI and the Cath Lab/MRI suites.

Inside a large warehouse mock up resembling the planned design of the operating room and adjacent MRI, a multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons, radiologists, nurses, respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists, patient families and other support staff participated in simulated patient care scenarios and provided their feedback. After OR/MRI simulations, the operating room was re-constructed as a Cath Lab and MRI.

“The design based simulations were invaluable,” said Janet Winebar, director of perioperative services at Texas Children’s. “With the Pediatric Tower, we are trying to create designs that drive efficiency and safety for our patient care, not just recreate our existing OR suites. Having actual spaces to simulate that care helped us to test our thoughts for design. We found that some of our designs needed tweaking to make them work.”

Key recommendations that emerged from the simulations included reconfiguring the MRI control rooms in the Cath Lab and Neuro OR to improve patient visibility and team coordination, modifying room entry doors to prevent barriers to safe access and patient transport, and repositioning equipment for easy access for all providers.

Design teams will integrate the clinical recommendations from all simulation activities into the final interior design of the critical care tower.

Other recent progress updates include:

  • An activation kickoff was held on September 26 for all departments involved in the activation of the Pediatric Tower. The meeting attended by more than 90 participants from over 40 departments revisited the purpose of CareFirst, the initial planning/completed work on the pediatric tower and the next steps for activation.
  • The interior design and color concepts have been finalized for the pediatric tower’s public spaces. The tower’s designated building color will be gold/yellow and the interior design theme is “The Beauty of Texas.”
  • Voalte wireless antennas were added to four ORs. Voalte technology roll-out will be completed by the end of October.
  • Interior build out construction is scheduled to begin in December once the City of Houston issues a building permit.
  • A topping out celebration is scheduled for February 9, 2017, to mark the construction milestone of completing the tower’s structure.

If everything continues to progress on schedule, Texas Children’s pediatric tower is slated to be completed by 2018.