Redesigned Saint John’s facility offers new technology

The new facility will open for patients next month. California First Lady Maria Shriver will dedicate facility Oct. 7.

By Ryan O’Quinn/Special to The Malibu Times

The new Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica will open to the public in just a little more than a month, and health center officials say it will be one of the premiere health care facilities on the West Coast.

By the end of this year the staff and patients in the current main hospital building will have moved in to the new 200,000-square-foot North Pavillion building just to the east. The main hospital will then be taken down to allow for the next phase, which includes construction of a four-story, 275,000 square foot structure to be called the Keck Diagnostic and Treatment Center. The center is slated to be completed in 2009 and will house radiation oncology, imaging, express diagnostics, the John Wayne Cancer Institute, the Joyce Eisenberg Keefer Breast Center, emergency room and the chapel.

The design for the $394 million Saint John’s project began eight years ago. The impetus for the new hospital came from the significant damage the hospital suffered during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. As a result of the earthquake, the hospital closed for nine months and suffered an estimated $32 million in damage and $72 million in loss of revenue.

“The earthquake really reset our direction,” said Terry Muldoon, vice president of Engineering Services. “Prior to 1994 we were doing what other [hospitals] were doing. We were saying ‘how do we grow?’ Northridge changed that. It caused us to step back and say ‘how do we support this community and what does health care look like in the future?'”

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The Saint John’s Board of Directors decided to build numerous state-of-the-art structures on the same site that could withstand future earthquakes and all the while take advantage of integrating new technologies in the structure during the construction phases. There are various advantages to such implementations including financial benefits as well as amenities for patients and hospital staff.

“We started out fairly clinically oriented dealing with the mechanics of health care,” Muldoon said. “What we have come to learn in the process is that dealing with the other aspects of the human condition are important too. In dealing with the hospitality amenities we are trying to build an inpatient facility, and what we have is really a hotel with medical gasses.”

Some of the new technology includes designing hospital rooms that are larger and have built-in sofas and other conveniences for patient and family comfort. The four-story North Pavilion will include 42-inch flat screen plasma televisions in patient rooms, wireless Internet access for patients and a wireless data network that allows physicians and staff to use various devices such as personal data assistants, portable laptops and micro-cellular telephones that would replace the antiquated nurse call system.

The physical facility will have a new look as well, including family waiting rooms on each floor with wireless Internet access, family member apartments on the critical care units and some floors with kitchens that would allow family members to make meals for the patients.

There are other changes that are subtler but have come about as a result of patient and staff feedback. These alterations include lowering the height of nurse station desks to decrease intimidation between staff and patients or family members and indirect lighting in the hallways so as to decrease glare in patients’ eyes while traveling on gurneys.

One of the numerous safety measures that will be in place in each of the new structures will be a base isolation system that, in lay terms, means making the building practically earthquake-proof. The base of the buildings rests on two-and-a-half ton bearings that would allow for give in the foundation and would be able to sustain a force four times greater than a building with fixed base structures. The walls and foundations are also equipped with ultrasonic motion detectors and slope inclinators in the wall to detect seismic movement.

By 2010, the remaining clinical buildings on Santa Monica Boulevard will be demolished and replaced with a 540-car underground parking structure and new entry plaza.

Muldoon said the hospital desires to be a good neighbor in the Santa Monica community as well. There are plans to construct a healing garden on the hospital grounds as well as a large community park that will be available to local residents. Muldoon also said the buildings were architecturally designed so as to be set back from the street and limited to four stories in height so as not to block the sun or disturb adjacent residents.

The construction phases have been planned in stages so that patient care will not be interrupted as it was in 1994. When a new building is completed, an old building will be demolished until all of the structures are completed.

The final phase of construction will begin in 2010 and will contain additional inpatient units, a wellness facility, medical offices and assisted living facilities. The campus area will be more than 900,000 square feet in total and will encompass over 20 acres along Santa Monica Boulevard.

The official dedication will take place on Oct. 7 at the Saint John’s Health Center at 1328 22nd Street in Santa Monica. California First Lady Maria Shriver will be there as the honored guest. A nursery in the hospital is being named after her.

13StarsManager
13StarsManagerhttps://malibutimes.com
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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