MVHS facilities director Scholefield lays out the project’s features, progress
UTICA — Once complete next year, Mohawk Valley Health System’s (MVHS) 10-story, 72,000-square-foot Wynn Hospital will serve area residents with a state-of-the- art facility that improves upon the flaws of existing buildings, hospital officials say.
Building an entirely new structure allowed MVHS to start with a clean slate and truly design the space from the ground up, Robert Scholefield, executive VP of facilities and real estate for MVHS, says during a recent tour of the site.
In fact, MVHS solicited input from more than 400 employees during the design process, he says, to make sure the new facility met their needs as well as the requirements of patients.
Patient privacy played a huge role when Seattle, Washington–based architecture firm NBBJ designed the building. That’s why patient areas are separated from areas visitors and the public can access, Scholefield says. The 62-room emergency department, which can handle 95,000 visits a year, flows right into radiology. This makes it convenient when patients need X-rays and also eliminates the need to move patients through public areas in order to reach other departments.
Staff workflow was also critical during the design, he says, so spaces are laid out to maximize efficiency. Instead of central nursing stations, the new hospital has more plentiful smaller stations, complete with nearby supply closets. The new setup puts nurses closer to the patients they are taking care of and to the supplies they need to do so, Scholefield says.
Another important design element is lighting. “We know natural light provides wellness not only to our patients and their families but also visitors and our staff,” he says. Patient rooms feature large windows to let in natural light, and most staff spaces also have a natural light source.
Starting from scratch also allowed MVHS to introduce some innovative technology and features to the 14 operating rooms. Each feature a modular ceiling that improves efficiency as well as patient care, Scholefield says. The modular compartments on the ceiling house the various necessities of an operating room, but the suspended design means staff can service those components from above. That results in faster service times, putting the operating room back into use much sooner.
The units also provide positive pressure to keep outside air from entering the operating room when the door opens and also provides laminar air flow, which moves air away from the patient during surgery. Both of these features reduce the risk of infection during surgery, Scholefield says.
Other new-to-MVHS technology includes a tracking board in the surgical waiting room so family members can keep tabs on their loved ones. “It just kind of lets you know where they are,” he says. It also minimizes the need for family members to ask staff for this information.
A command center will not only take over as the main switchboard for incoming phone calls, but also will serve as the hub of all patient flow. “In this room is where all patient traffic will be monitored,” says Scholefield. At a glance, staff can see who is ready to discharge, what room a patient was admitted to, and where patients are at that given moment.
Each of the 22 intensive-care unit (ICU) rooms will have smart TVs that will allow doctors to show images or other medical information to patients and their families. Electronic room signs just outside the door show pertinent information, such as whether a patient is a fall risk or is hard of hearing.
The $611 million project will be “substantially complete” by August 2023, Scholefield says. In the meantime, MVHS continues to host operations meetings with hospital staff members so they can learn the layout and workflow of their departments.
MVHS anticipates moving patients into the Wynn Hospital in October 2023. The health system anticipates selling both the St. Elizabeth Medical Center campus in Utica and the St. Luke’s Hospital campus in New Harford. MVHS will retain the Faxton building in Utica as an outpatient facility and plans to continue leasing the former Utica National building at 201 Lafayette St. for office space adjacent to the new Wynn Hospital.
Gilbane Building Company — a Providence, Rhode Island–based firm with upstate New York offices in Albany and Rochester — is the project’s construction manager. Hammes Company, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin–based health-care consulting firm, serves as the project-management company hired to facilitate the effort. Hammes is offering advisory services and program management.
MVHS, formed in 2014, is an affiliation between St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare that also includes MVHS Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Visiting Nurse Association of Utica and Oneida County, and Senior Network Health.
MVHS received a $300 million grant from the New York State Department of Health and a $50 million donation from casino magnate Steve Wynn’s family foundation for the $611 million project. MVHS also secured $180 million in financing through Barclays, a multinational investment bank and financial-services company.
The 25-acre Wynn Hospital campus will include an 80,000-square-foot central utility facility, outdoor relaxation areas for visitors, space set aside for future growth, and a parking garage. Oneida County is building the $40.5 million, 1,550-space garage with 1,150 spaces allocated for hospital needs.