Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Critical Care Tower makes its debut
by Leslie Hast
photography by Joe Howell and Susan Urmy
It began as a way to meet an ever-increasing demand for inpatient beds and surgical services, but the final product is a facility that perfectly satisfies the needs of care teams, patients and families, while creating a platform for innovative health care.
The Critical Care Tower, a 329,000-square-foot addition to Vanderbilt University Hospital, opened Nov. 14. The 11-story, $169 million expansion houses 12 new operating rooms and 102 patient beds in the medical, surgical and neurological intensive care units.
“It is truly thrilling to think about the possibilities that this addition holds for patients at Vanderbilt and throughout the region that we serve,” said Jeffrey Balser, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
“What Vanderbilt holds dearly is innovation, and this new tower makes a strong statement about that emphasis,” he said. “Everything about it is designed with an eye to the future and the promise that discovery and advances in technology hold for our patients.”
Patient rooms, which average 320 square feet, were designed in an innovative three-zone layout:
• The Family Zone, with a dedicated space enabling family to stay at the bedside, reflects an increasing emphasis on patient- and family-centered care. All rooms are private and include a full bath and sleeper sofa or recliner. Each unit also includes an active waiting area with a TV and computer, and a quiet waiting area with comfortable recliners.
• The Patient Zone includes an ICU Smart Bed with enhanced functions and safety features. The head wall has a variety of hook-ups, including dialysis in every room. There is also a blood gas lab and radiology facilities on every unit to expedite critical care decision-making and diagnosis.
• The Staff Zone gives the care team plenty of room to work around the bedside, and there is a computer in every room for documentation and support.
The focal point of the tower is a central atrium with skylights allowing in natural sunlight. It can be accessed from the sixth floor and has comfortable seating, artwork, a meditation garden and live trees. Interior finishes mimic colors and textures found in nature. Walls are painted in soothing blue and green tones with wood and stone accents.
The new operating rooms are large enough to accommodate the latest technology, including two that were specially equipped with single-plane and biplane imaging systems. All operating rooms have the latest telemedicine capabilities. They are interchangeable and available for any service, and shelving is standardized so restocking is more efficient and specialty items can be brought in as needed.
To support the expanded surgical services, a new blood bank was constructed on the fourth floor of The Vanderbilt Clinic. It consolidates the adult and pediatric services to increase efficiency.
“Our basic goal for this addition was to provide more patient beds and more operating rooms, but the end product, of course, is to take better care of patients,” said C. Wright Pinson, deputy vice chancellor for health affairs.
“This is a historic time for the medical center. We have created a beautiful facility, but what is more beautiful is all the good things that are going to happen in this building for patients and families for years to come.”
More than 200 VUMC staff and faculty helped to plan the Critical Care Tower. To prepare for the patient move, staff conducted unit-specific orientations, a “day in the life” training exercise, and a mock patient move.
Four of the tower’s 11 floors have been shelled for future growth.
“We have plans to finish out this building and renovate our current facility so that our entire hospital lives up to the reputation that we have created here,” said Larry Goldberg, chief executive officer of Vanderbilt University Hospital. “It will take several years to get there, but now we have a challenge to live up to the promise and potential of
For complete details on the Critical Care Tower, visit www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/houseorgan.