Inside MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital’s Dally Tower, floors seven and eight have sat vacant for years.
Outside, the population in the Puyallup hospital’s service areas continue to rise.
The need for extra space was exactly what hospital staff and architects anticipated when the Dally Tower was built between 2007 and 2011.
Now, the plan to transform these two floors into functioning units is moving into the construction phase.
“Our community is growing and we need to meet their demands and it’s exciting that we’ll be able to do that,” said Lescia Myers, director of critical care at Good Sam.
The seventh floor will be a post-surgical unit, while the eighth floor will become a progressive care unit. Each floor will have 40 beds.
The expansion will enable the hospital to take in more patients and is a much-needed project, according to hospital staff. While licensed for about 280 beds, more than 300 are often needed.
“We’re in this expanding (regional) area,” said Janine Sanderson, manager of critical care at Good Sam. “It’s hard to keep ahead of it.”
When it came to designing the new floors, hospital staff members were faced with a unique opportunity.
Tasked with the project was Clark/Kjos Architects, a Portland-based company that specializes in health care structures. The company worked with Good Sam for previous projects around campus, including the fifth and sixth floors of Dally Tower.
In 2015, the company brought together 50 staff members ranging from executive level leadership to nursing staff members for a three-day intensive workshop about what changes they’d like to see in the design of the new floors.
“We had 50 people with a diverse knowledge base look at this design challenge,” said Jessica Radecki, associate principal and architect with Clark/Kjos Architects.
Staff members used lists and sticky notes to make suggestions on the new floor plans. It was especially important for nurses to have a say in the design.
“The people who day in and day out are working in these environments and have great ideas — this gives them an opportunity to share those ideas,” Radecki said. “...That’s where the magic happens. They get that link between what they’re doing and how they’re impacted by the environment.”
In the existing floor plans, Radecki and her team members conducted their own research, collecting data on how many steps nurses took in their daily shifts, how much time it took to retrieve patient medicines and the routes they took to get there.
Last month, the architectural team completed a to-scale mockup using cardboard on the empty eighth floor, allowing staff to get the feel of how the real design would look.
“(It) was a great way to engage the staff and really make sure they had a hand in making it better and improving their workflow to provide better patient satisfaction and improve the overall experience you can get in a hospital,” Radecki said.
In the new floor designs, some major changes include shorter pathways to medical supply rooms from patient rooms and creating easier viewing of patient rooms for nurses at nursing stations. Shorter countertops will make for easier movement for staff, while alcoves for sitting will provide patients with opportunities to take breaks as they move about.
Inside patient rooms, computer monitors will be placed close to patient beds for better communication. Strategic placement of overhead lights and art should create less of a clinical feel.
At the end of the day, both staff members and patients will benefit from the new design, said Tyler Carlson, Clark/Kjos Architects’ principal in charge.
“We were able to test the study with the new floor to the existing floors that were there and add an additional 24 minutes to patient care,” Carlson said. “(Nurses are) spending less time walking, and more time providing (patients with) the care they need.”
The project should last into next summer, with a hopeful completion date of July 2018. During construction, an exterior elevator will be built to prevent interrupted workflow of staff.