Creating new building model is a snap (Photo gallery)

(L-R) Volunteer architects Dan Gilbert and Jonathan Morschl and associate development officer Brian Hollingsworth were instrumental in building the LEGO model.

(L-R) Volunteer architects Dan Gilbert and Jonathan Morschl and associate development officer Brian Hollingsworth were instrumental in building the LEGO model.

With a little more than a month for planning and construction, a team of 30 volunteers set out to achieve the unthinkable – construction of the new building at the Akron campus.

Under the architectural direction of Jonathan Morschl of Four Points Architectural Services, Inc. and Dan Gilbert of DLZ, the team produced the necessary designs, procured the right materials, deployed a loyal and skilled group of building experts, and completed the project on time.

Did we mention they built the building using LEGO®?

“We wanted to do something special for the groundbreaking,” said Brian Hollingsworth, associate development officer for the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We wanted a piece that would show people a visual representation of what the building is going to look like.”

Airbear, Akron Children's dedicated pediatric transport helicopter, will have a new helipad when the critical care tower opens

Airbear, Akron Children’s dedicated pediatric transport helicopter, will have a new helipad when the critical care tower opens

After some brainstorming within the Foundation, Gretchen Jones, the Director of Principal Giving, suggested a LEGO creation that would serve as a
centerpiece for the recent groundbreaking festivities.

Hollingsworth turned to social media to get ideas about how to replicate the building using LEGO and to recruit volunteers to build it.

After a simple Facebook post, the project took off, he said.

“We received just an amazing response,” Hollingsworth said. “People were liking it, commenting on it, and sharing it on their own pages. I received so many messages from people saying ‘I’m a Lego maniac’ or ‘I have a husband or a child who wants to do this.’”

Morschl and Gilbert helped plan the LEGO model so it would stand as a true representation of the new building when the real structure is complete.

They helped determine what types and quantities of Lego pieces would be necessary to build the model to scale with as much authentic detail as possible.

Assembly was challenging, but finding the materials was more difficult, said Hollingsworth. “It was hair-raising at times waiting for the mail to arrive to bring more essential LEGO bricks,” he said.

Ultimately, the model required several dozen different types of LEGO bricks, more than 12,000 pieces in all, and about 120 volunteer hours to construct. It stands 13 inches tall and 2 feet, 10 inches across, resting on a 4-foot-square platform.

The model may eventually find a home on display in the new building when it’s completed in 2015.

“It was a much bigger project than we thought at first,” said Hollingsworth. “It took a lot of volunteers to make it happen.”

Going, Going, Gone (Video)

Akron Children's Hospital is building a new $200 million critical care tower on this site.

Akron Children’s Hospital is building a new $180 million critical care tower on this site.

Workers from Ray Bertolini Trucking demolished the former Wally Waffle building at Locust and West Exchange streets March 2.

It is the first of several buildings along Locust Street to be taken down in the upcoming weeks to make way for Akron Children’s new $200 million critical care tower. The tower will include a new emergency department, neonatal intensive care unit and outpatient surgical suites.

Constructed circa 1913, the building served as the home of United Vacuum Cleaners for nearly 60 years. Other previous tenants included Meeker’s Kitchen, Brendan & Finn’s Irish Pub, and Ed Niam’s Parkette Restaurant.

Wally Waffle has re-opened its restaurant in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.

Final design workshop for NICU likened to “speed dating” [Photo Gallery]

Mary Beth Frye, Megan Pollock and nurse Sofiya Lizhnyak participate in NICU simulation

NICU family care coordinator Mary Beth Frye, Megan Pollock and nurse Sofiya Lizhnyak participate in a NICU simulation to test the new design space.

Akron Children’s Hospital’s NICU team began its final design kaizen with an approach that could be compared to speed dating.

The team broke into three small groups that rotated around full-sized cardboard mock-ups that represented patient rooms, medication rooms, team rooms, family and staff quiet rooms, supply and equipment rooms, pod work stations, and remote networking or “touchdown” rooms.

Each group had 45 minutes to review and discuss where every stationary and portable item should be placed in each room.

During a simulation scenario, Dr. Jen Grow and mock patient family test out the design of the new patient rooms

During a simulation scenario, Dr. Jen Grow and Megan Pollock test out the design of the new patient rooms.

The teams took the needs of NICU families into consideration – everything from how to provide coffee and tea service most economically and efficiently to the need for recliners in the quiet room for parents to hold their end-of-life babies.

“It’s been great to be able to give input on everything from the chair position in the patient room to the counter space and cabinets in the bathroom,” said Megan Pollock, a former NICU parent.

In all the rooms, the team discussed the smallest details:

  • How many and what types of seating are required?
  • How many phones and chargers for communication devices are needed?
  • What types of storage work most efficiently in different rooms?
  • Would white and cork boards be useful or compromise patient privacy?
  • What size windows provide the best compromise between visibility, privacy and cost?
  • What’s the best location for the breast milk and formula refrigerator and the meds refrigerator in the medication room?
  • Could crash carts be stored in the medication room?
  • Where is the best place to locate sinks to avoid splashing and possible contamination?
  • Are clutter free counters with storage shelves above the best approach?
  • Who will be responsible for cleaning and stocking items?

After the NICU team agreed on changes, they used simulation scenarios to confirm that they knew where to find what they needed and make sure the newly designed spaces work as planned.

“Participating in the simulations was awesome,” Megan said. “The newborn mannequin made the whole experience feel so real. When I practiced kangaroo care with it, I could feel the heart beat.”

The NICU team will now embark on two years of process refinement during the Critical Care Tower construction, culminating in the move to their new space in 2015.

How will healthcare look in 20 years? That would be nice to know as we build now

Dr. David Chand talks with Dr. Emily Scott, a pediatric ED attending physician, during the August kaizen to design the new ER.

As Akron Children’s Hospital moves forward with its $200 million campus expansion, a crystal ball would come in handy.

With health care reform, changing demographics, and other uncertainties, our goal is to build flexibility into our design in every way possible. We can make educated guesses regarding future patient volumes and acuity, reimbursement levels, the always-changing technology and best practices for care, but they are just that – educated guesses.

The kaizen process is a group effort.

The first phase of the plan includes a critical care tower to be built on Locust Street, west of our main hospital. The tower will include a new emergency department, neonatal intensive care unit and outpatient surgical suites. A new parking deck, which will connect to the tower, is already under construction. Later projects include an expansion of the Ronald McDonald House of Akron and additional space for clinical programs.

Akron Children’s is using a forward-thinking design process called Integrated Lean Project Delivery (ILPD), which has brought all stakeholders – physicians, nurses, parents, and staff – together with the architects and engineers to design the new space efficiently and with the best possible patient experience in mind. The guiding principles echo back to the hospital’s original promises of:

  • Treating each child as if our own,
  • Treating others as we would want to be treated, and
  • Turning no child away regardless of ability to pay.

Using this process is a natural evolution for Akron Children’s, which began to embrace the Lean Six Sigma process improvement principles when it created the Mark A. Watson Center for Operations Excellence in 2008.

I have been most closely involved with the team designing the emergency department, which was built to serve 45,000 patients annually but has been serving closer to 60,000 in recent years.

Moving through the design process, we held several architect-led meetings, including a week-long “kaizen” in a local warehouse. Using sturdy cardboard for walls, we were able to test true-to-size floor designs and the functionality of the space by wheeling a patient down a hallway, measuring the time needed to get an x-ray, and counting the steps a nurse takes when reaching for supplies.

We have tested various ED scenarios, including a common case of asthma, a trauma, and a teen having a mental health crisis. A pediatric ED is a busy place and we have sought the input of other hospital professionals who provide services there, including our social workers, dietitians, chaplains, transport team members, pharmacists, lab and radiology technicians, and security and housekeeping staff.

Testing patient care flow during a kaizen to design the new ER.

We studied data, such as our average daily census and length of stay, and created “current state” and “future state” value-stream maps, which quantify all the employees, functions, time and costs that follow a patient from arrival to discharge.

Some surprisingly low-tech supplies such as Post-It Notes, yarn, masking tape, and paper cut-outs have been employed to capture ideas and study work flow.

The goal is to catch design flaws early, reduce the number of change orders and, of course, solve problems before it is too late to make changes.

We learned a few things early on. We want separate ED entrances for ambulances and families bringing children on their own. We want as much standardization as possible to reduce the risk of error. And we want rooms to be universal – able to change in function by simply moving equipment in and out.

The parents on our team told us they hope for improved way-finding and easy check-in. A good sense of safety and security is also a top priority. We were reminded that they often come to the hospital with baby carriers, diaper bags, strollers and siblings in tow and few pediatric ED visits are ever planned. The input they have given us has been invaluable.

Construction will begin this spring, with completion scheduled for 2015. We can only wonder what changes we will see in health care by the time the doors of our new critical care tower officially open.

Dr. David Chand is a pediatric hospitalist and member of Akron Children’s Hospital’s Mark A. Watson Center for Operations Excellence.

Simulations help team design most efficient ER

Dr. Gregg DiGiulio examines a mannequin during a simulation to help design the new ER.

A 15-month-old lies in an ER trauma room after being transported by EMS from an adult hospital. Lab results indicate possible kidney failure.

A 6-month-old suffering seizures is being treated in an ER patient room.

A baby has been found not breathing in a bassinette by a babysitter and has been brought to the ER by EMS.

A normal day in Akron Children’s Hospital’s ER?  Not today.

These are 30-minute simulations being played out at the warehouse in Green Township. They’re helping the ER team in its continuing effort to design the most efficient ER, which will be part of the hospital’s new Critical Care Tower.

In previous sessions, the ER team defined equipment needs, room sizes, basic layouts, and the location of support services.

Dr. Mary Patterson is part of the team helping design the new ER and trauma space in the new critical care tower.

This week, ER team members are enacting simulation scenarios created by Dr. Mary Patterson and her staff in the simulation center, to refine the details of the space and determine how it actually works in practice with a patient.

This means fine tuning what’s in the rooms and where everything is placed. Is equipment easily accessed or in the way of staff providing patient care?

ER staff members are assigned roles to play – residents, attending physicians, medical nurses, procedure nurses, recording nurses, respiratory therapists, x-ray techs, anesthesia assistants, observing students, child life specialists, even distraught parents – to evaluate how well the space and equipment work for each member of the team.

The team surrounds the “patients” – mannequins with pulses, eyes that react to light, and breathing and heart sounds – to test the placement and functionality of equipment.

These simulations are videotaped, and with Dr. Patterson leading the debriefing sessions that immediately follow the simulations, team members watch the videos and talk about their own experiences to identify what’s working and what needs to be changed.

As the week progresses and equipment and cart placements are decided, slow-motion simulations will be used to confirm that medications and critical equipment are within the reach of all members of the team, from the tallest to the shortest.  Simulations will also capture patient care at and from ambulance bays.

All of these workshops taking place at the warehouse are part of what’s called a Kaizen, a rapid process improvement event. This will be the last Kaizen meeting for the ER team. Refinements made in this session will be reflected in the completed architectural drawings due by March 8.

How the ER team will boost efficiency and reduce costs in new space

Akron Children’s ER design team runs through patient scenarios to find ways to create the most value in the design of our new ER.

As our teams assemble to discuss and collaborate on best practices and design of Akron Children’s Hospital’s new $200 million critical care tower, participants continue to experience “Ah, ha!” moments.

This week, the ER team ran through patient scenarios, using mannequins and equipment, to test how effectively the staff can move throughout the current design space.

What they realized was that exploring all options – even if there are some that will be ruled out – helps identify new, unexplored possibilities.

Throughout the integrated project delivery (IPD) process, design teams have been challenged to find ways to maximize efficiency and reduce space, creating the most value in the design.

The ER team realized that they could save money and increase flexibility within the space by reducing the amount of built-in storage and using a cart system to store and move supplies around.

They brainstormed possible cart combinations and then discussed how those carts could be used and stored. By not having identical medical equipment housed in each room, we save space and money.

In the future, if equipment needs updated, there will be fewer units to update, reducing expenses.

In addition, carts provide flexibility because the staff can customize the room to the patient’s situation by bringing in only the equipment they need.

This group also talked a lot about doors – their size, hardware function and open/close timing. In January, they’ll return to the warehouse for patient simulations using sample doors from manufacturers.

Video: Child life specialists weigh in on Akron Children’s new critical care tower

Our child life specialists play a critical role in helping to reduce stress and anxiety for children and families before, during and after medical procedures. It’s a perspective they’re sharing with the team planning and building the new $200-million critical care tower at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Help us build a better hospital

Akron Children’s Hospital hosted its first family focus group in August to help design its new critical care tower.

Akron Children’s Hospital is seeking families to share their vision for a new ER and outpatient surgery center during the second in a series of family focus groups on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Our new critical care tower will be designed to enhance the quality, family-centered care we’ve been providing for more than 120 years.

Patient families offer an important perspective in the planning process.

“Your input will help us ensure the space is created as a healing environment for patients and families,” said Judy Doyle, parent advisor coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children ages 9 and older because we’d like their opinions too.

To attend or for more information, contact Judy at 330-543-3072 or Space is limited.

Check out the August family focus group.

Parents, kids create wish list for their ‘dream’ hospital

In a free-wheeling exchange of ideas, the parents who participated in a focus group to help design Akron Children’s Hospital’s new critical care tower clearly love much about the current facility. They hope to see Akron Children’s culture preserved as it grows bigger.

Parents used phrases like, “comfortable,” “bright,” “warm,” “clean” when asked, “What should be the first impression of Akron Children’s?”

Sarah Sanford said she hopes the new hospital tower will remain a place where “everyone you meet with knows your child.”

Megs Pollock and Jackie Smolinski agreed with that sentiment, adding that they didn’t want the new building to be “too sterile,” or to “look like an airport terminal.” In other words, even if it is big, make it feel small.

Parents attending the session included mothers who had newborns in Akron Children’s NICU as well as those who come to the hospital often with children who have complex healthcare needs.

While the parents talked about what they wanted in the new building, a group of kids were in a nearby room drawing pictures of their “dream” hospital and sharing their own opinions.

While Michelle Ott talked about the importance of having automatic, wheelchair-accessible doors that her daughters could open themselves, 13-year-old Jenna Ott drew a picture of a hospital room with a canopy bed, a “gummy bear” bean bag chair, and lots of pink and purple.

Jenna’s design was conservative compared to other kids who envisioned robots, roller coasters, an ice rink and a beach incorporated into the new hospital.

“I love that kids were invited to this event and that they have a say,” said Michelle.

Jenna has had 20 surgeries so far in her young life and older sister, Alix, who also attended, has undergone more than 50 surgeries. The Ott girls were excited to think that they may actually see some of their ideas in place when the hospital tower opens in 2015.

The parents were also asked what they appreciated about the existing facilities, what they would like to change, and the best way to create a healing environment.

Parents associated healing with kind-hearted, friendly people, serene colors, natural light, music and water.

MaryBeth Fry said NICU moms would get hope from seeing pictures of preemies juxtaposed with pictures of the same children doing well in middle school, high school or college.

Even if the NICU gets bigger – with individual rooms – Fry and the other moms want the new space to balance their need for privacy while giving them the opportunity to meet, develop a support group and maybe even become lifelong friends.

“Research shows that when you reduce stress for parents, you reduce stress for the child,” HKS architect, Rachel Saucier, told the group.