Physicians inspired design of Wisconsin Heart Hospital in Wauwatosa
By Steve Jagler, of SBT
When patients check in to the Wisconsin Heart Hospital in Wauwatosa, they will be greeted by slate floors and a concierge who will guide them to private rooms equipped with amenities such as cable television and Internet access.
Indeed, the main challenge in designing and building the hospital at 10000 W. Blue Mound Rd. is creating the ambience of a hotel rather than that of a traditional hospital.
"You won’t see a sea of signage," said Kent Davidson, project manager for Omaha, Neb.-based HDR Inc., which is overseeing construction of the Wisconsin Heart Hospital. "They wanted an environment that would feel more like a hotel than a hospital."
The concept is far different from the sprawling, interconnecting mazes of wings in a traditional hospital, said Norma McCutcheon, president of the Wisconsin Heart Hospital.
"They key component of interest was to design a patient-oriented building," McCutcheon said.
"Hospitals have added on and added on and made themselves bigger and bigger and bigger and more inconvenient for patients and their families," said Dr. James King, an interventional cardiologist who is the chief medical officer of the new hospital. "One of the things we were looking for was a convenient, patient-friendly environment. In our design, that was important."
The first floor of the two-story, pre-cast concrete building will include the emergency room, catheter laboratories and outpatient rooms.
The second floor will house the surgical arena and inpatient rooms.
The private patient rooms all will have natural lighting through large windows and are being constructed to be flexible and accommodate new and emerging medical technologies, Davidson said.
The spacious rooms, which will function essentially as independent intensive care units, also will include such amenities as cable television and Internet access, said Chris Norcross, senior project manager for M.A. Mortenson Co., Wauwatosa, the general contractor for the construction project.
The $44 million hospital, which is scheduled to open in January 2004, is a joint venture of the Covenant Healthcare System and a coalition of 90 physicians and 30 private investors. It will replace the St. Joseph’s Ambulatory Center, which is being relocated to a new site along Highway 100 between I-94 and Blue Mound Road.
Because the physicians have a vested interest in the project, their input was voiced throughout the design of the hospital, King said.
The affiliation with Covenant will give the Wisconsin Heart Hospital a competitive advantage over the Heart Hospital of Milwaukee, a 32-bed freestanding hospital being built by MedCath Corp. in Glendale, King said.
Ultimately, with less overhead and with built-in efficiencies, the heart hospitals will lower the costs of heart procedures in the Milwaukee market, King said.
"We will be extremely competitive," King said.
The new heart hospitals are emerging because most of the cardiological procedures in the future will be noninvasive, such as catheter and stent-based drug and genomic treatments.
The business plan for the Wisconsin Heart Hospital projects a break-even point after the third year and profits of 20% by the fifth year, McCutcheon said.
Covenant’s share of the profits will be pumped back into its overall system and help cover the costs of providing services for the poor and others who do not have health insurance, said Paul Dell Uomo, president and CEO of Covenant.
Dell Uomo said the new heart hospital would expand Covenant’s network, which includes cardiac care at St. Francis Hospital, St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and St. Michael Hospital in Milwaukee.
"We are providing this as an alternative," Dell Uomo said. "It was really the group of physicians who came to us with the idea. That thought was intriguing. Creating the model for the community, we thought, was advantageous. What intrigued us was the physicians’ passion with this."
May 2, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee