Moving a hospital more than moving furniture; patients are first priority


The first floor main lobby is getting finishing work at the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital, set to open this spring.

By ALEX McRAE (Editor's Note: This is the second in a weekly series on the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital facility, leading up to the opening this spring of the new hospital on Poplar Road at I-85.) •••
The management, medical staff and support personnel at Piedmont Newnan Hospital have long been aware that moving an existing health care facility to a new location is a challenge. They understand that the process is not about moving furniture and fixtures. It is about moving living, breathing hospital patients from one location to another with no interruption in care or sacrifice in service. And hospital officials must be ready to make it happen by the first week in May. The move to the new Piedmont Newnan Hospital on Poplar Road at I-85 is being planned and executed with military precision. The process began months ago, but PNH officials are convinced that when patients and their families enter the new hospital for the first time, they will be amazed at what they find. The building will be warm and welcoming, packed with state-of-the-art, health-care equipment and staffed by some of the best-trained and most experienced medical staff, nurses and physicians in the metro Atlanta area. But it is the patient care and treatment procedures that hospital officials say will make any patient's stay unlike anything they have ever experienced before. Patients at the existing PNH facility on Hospital Road on Newnan's west side already rate the medical care at that facility as high or higher as patients at any of the other Piedmont Healthcare hospitals across Georgia. At the new hospital, that already outstanding level of care will be kept, and raised, officials say. Not just because of new equipment and facilities, but because of the implementation of a whole new model of health care delivery. "We've put a great deal of time and effort into better understanding how patients move through treatment, and we've redesigned the process from their perspective," said Karen Duffard, executive director, Corporate Development and Project Management, Piedmont Healthcare. "We've made changes to make sure all activities are as efficient as possible and add real value to patient care." Those changes are all reflected in Piedmont's "Facility Vision and Guiding Principles," which are the foundation for the hospital's planning and organizational efforts. Hospital officials say the goal of the intensive planning is to: "Create a facility based on exceptional performance, driven by the Piedmont Promise, consistent with the mission of the hospital, and defined by health care that is: * Patient-centered: planned around the patient experience * Efficient: minimizes waste and duplication * Safe: minimizes the possibility of errors * Effective: evidence-based, reliable * Timely: No unnecessary waiting * Equitable: sensitive to the diversity of patients' needs." It is believed that adhering to those principles will ensure a quality patient experience at the new PNH. "All of the technical and medical improvements in our new facility will obviously have a positive impact on our quality of care, but the added plus is how much they improve patient satisfaction," said Anna Ivory, vice president of Organizational Quality for PNH. "No one wants to be admitted to the hospital, but all of these improvements will help make a hospital stay as patient-friendly as possible." Only after patients are admitted will they fully understand what advancements in hospital care await them. For example, instead of transporting patients to different areas of the hospital, treatment and diagnostic equipment will be brought to the patient's room to reduce patient transportation and improve efficiency. A "Care Team" will be assigned to each patient, allowing multiple care providers to see the patient at the same time. This will ensure that all care providers receive the same information at the same time and will eliminate the need for patients to have to answer the same questions numerous times. The goal is to make the hospital stay as pleasant as possible. Vicki Kaiser, who serves as Outpatient Services/Patient Access director for PNH, said, "Our goal is to create a customer experience where patients and visitors are engaged immediately upon arrival to our campus. We are currently exploring shuttle and valet services for our patients and visitors. Once in the building, patients will experience a concierge type of service where customer-flow navigators will accompany them through a streamlined intake process and directly to the point of care." The physical facility is technically and structurally designed to streamline admissions and make treatment more efficient. Instead of a central nursing station on each floor, stations are placed outside every other patient room to increase patient visibility and speed nurse access. Each of the private patient rooms will have its own individually-controlled thermostat to increase patient comfort. Special care has been taken to improve facilities and patient care at the Emergency Department, which -- for many patients -- is where the hospital experience begins. "Piedmont Newnan Hospital's Emergency Services has focused on providing an efficient, safe experience for our patients," said Marsha Suber, RN, BSN, MBA-HA, Emergency Services senior staff/flow facilitator for PNH. "Our increased capacity and process planning will allow our patients to be evaluated by the physician in a timely manner. Our state-of-the-art 'Staff Flow Terminal' will allow us to communicate within the department and with other service areas in real time, resulting in improved patient flow. We look forward to providing an efficient, compassionate emergency services environment for our community." A "Coordination Care Center" will track the status and location of all admitted patients at all times. This center will monitor patient needs down to the smallest detail, from knowing when a room needs cleaning to when a nursing call has gone unanswered. Those waiting to see patients will also have an upgraded experience, thanks to waiting areas designed more like hotel and resort lobbies, open to soothing outdoor views and flooded with natural light. Making sure the process happens on schedule and with maximum efficiency takes endless hours of planning. It also takes a set of guidelines to ensure that everyone is working toward common goals. Currently, the clinical and non-clinical departments of PNH are working on "operational plans" that will take effect in the new facility. The plans will be revised and updated as needed and used by new employees for department orientation and training. The complex operational plans are divided into the following components: * Overview * Facility Vision and Guiding Principles * Scope of Services for each department/area * Scope * Location * Hours of Operation * Department Organization Chart * Projected Volumes and Capacity * Floor Plans * Operational Plan * Operating Guidelines and Performance Metrics * Operational Flows/ Design Layouts * Staff Roles and Requirements * Gap Analysis/ Open Issues to be addressed and resolved prior to the move. If all goes well, patients at PNH will never know just how much planning and organization went into making Coweta County's new hospital the envy of health care professionals and patients throughout the region. They will only know they have received the finest health care experience available anywhere.

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