March 27, 2019

UMass Memorial awarded for Memorial Campus renovations

Photo/Grant Welker
Gary Valcourt, UMass' associate vice president of facilities and capital planning, and Kathleen Hylka, the hospital's director of strategic space planning, stand on a new stairway at UMass Memorial Medical Center's Memorial Campus in Worcester. Recent renovations won the hospital a national award.

Renovations at UMass Memorial Medical Center's Memorial Campus have earned the hospital a national award.

UMass overhauled patient rooms in its medical and surgical unit and updated common areas including hallways and gathering spaces, taking a delicate approach to undertaking sometimes noisy work while making sure not to disrupt patients.

The hospital added more private patient rooms, redesigned employee gathering areas to allow for better collaboration and even remade some hallways and added a staircase to make navigating the hospital's somewhat labyrinth-like layout easier.

For that work, UMass received one of just three Vista Awards from the American Hospital Association's American Society for Healthcare Engineering. UMass won in a renovation category, while a hospital in San Diego won for new construction and one in Lancaster, Pa., for infrastructure work.

Photo/Grant Welker
Medical and surgical unit patient rooms were upgraded with new equipment and features, and many double rooms were remade as private rooms.

The awards go toward projects the American Hospital Association reviews for maintaining safe and quality healthcare environments, and using data to make project decisions.

UMass' construction team consulted with all hospital staff — from doctors to nurses to custodial — to make sure new equipment and layouts worked best, and built some mock work stations and patient rooms before settling on new designs. The hospital's older design never took collaborative staff work spaces into account, said Gary Valcourt, UMass' associate vice president of facilities and capital planning.

New patient rooms were upgraded with comfort a large consideration, said Kathleen Hylka, the hospital's director of strategic space planning. Lighting can be adjusted for different uses, she said, and machines monitoring hallway sounds can increase white noise inside a patient's room so they're not as disturbed by, say, a loud cart rumbling by.

Photo/Grant Welker
Renovations at UMass Memorial Medical Center's Memorial Campus in Worcester included new gathering areas for staff, patients and visitors.

Roughly 80 percent of the Memorial Campus's medical and surgical unit's patient rooms are now private, up from about 20 percent. That has picked up on a broader industry trend toward avoiding putting patients in shared rooms.

While work was being done, the hospital took the opportunity to upgrade to more efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and temperature control systems. In an entirely different focus, works by local artists were added in common areas.

With the next large-scale renovation many years away and technology quickly changing the way hospitals give care, UMass wanted to make sure it could make adjustments again without having to rip out walls or be too disruptive again, Valcourt said.

"We have to make sure the rooms are able to be adapted very quickly," he said.

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