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St. Louis Experts Share Tips for a Smooth Transition from Hospital to Healthcare System

  by Megan Headley | Aug 17, 2017


  As consolidations continue across the healthcare industry, many hospitals are struggling to smoothly make the shift from standalone organization to part of a larger healthcare system. It’s one of the many challenges facing the industry today that was addressed at the Greater St. Louis Hospital, Outpatient Facilities and Medical Office Buildings Summit in July. The event, organized by SquareFootage and co-hosted by the Health Care Institute of IFMA, brought together design, construction and facility management experts who have worked through these transitions.

In going through this process, Ascension Health learned that it was crucial to build a sense of trust across the entire organization early on.

“In order to bring us all together, it’s not just us, the owners, but everyone that works for us from the maintenance team to the care providers to the volunteers … Our big challenge has been building that trust across the organization,” commented Jen Hendrich Cayton, Manager of Planning, Design & Construction for Ascension Health.

Creating system-wide processes and branding is critical in presenting a seamless front to the end-user, but this process can be overwhelming when not appropriately structured.

Nancy Coleman, Director of Design, BJC HealthCare, pointed out, “We created standards in order to make everyone’s life easier, but in essence we’ve made it harder.” Coleman noted that organizations too often add everyone’s input into standards, overcomplicating the application of these guidelines.

“We need to find out how to strike that balance moving forward so we can figure out how to build better and cheaper,” Coleman said. “The question for end-users now is ‘What can you do without?’ rather than ‘What can you add?’ We need to think differently and try to be more deductive.”

Charis Bengston Trost, Manager of Facility Design Planning, Design and Construction for Mercy, noted that this balance is better struck when there are fewer people at the table in these early standards meetings.

“Less is more is our biggest lesson learned,” Trost said. “We’re getting away from letting users determine what they want and instead educating them on what they’re going to have and how they will use it.”

Systems can smooth the transition for new hospitals by giving responsibility for this process to a key team with decision-making capabilities.

“The one thing all really successful projects have is a key individual who works for the owner, who is empowered to make decisions, has a clear vision about what you’re trying to accomplish and takes that leadership through the entire design and construction process,” said Doug Mangers, VP Operations and Healthcare Business Unit Leader for McCarthy Building Companies. “The jobs that have a really good core team are the jobs that go really well.”

For more takeaways from the event, click here.