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Construction Update Blog

Week of December 27

To Fill or Backfill, That is the Question. Hark - make thy spaces as beautiful as possible for the children and their families!

Okay.  I'm one of those Shakespeare groupies you've heard about in books and magazines.  I love all those old English words and phrases, as well as historical fiction. But, enough about me.  We're here to talk about the South Wing, and this week, we're talking about Backfill.

Backfill is where we'll take the old spaces, where folks are moving out, and renovate them to make them into more patient care and support space for other groups not moving into the South Wing.  We will end up with quite a bit of space to use for this backfill process.  For instance, the entire Emergency Department is moving to the South Wing, and the 3D Hem Onc (3 Gold for those old schoolers out there), and the Hem Onc, Dental Clinic, ENT Clinic, and Neurology Clinics are doing the same.  That frees up a lot of space for us to use for other purposes!

Now, you're probably wondering how we decide who and what will move into those spaces and when we'll renovate them to make them into usable spaces for the new occupants.  Well, it's a process that involves lot of people from many different areas, including administrators, physicians, nurse managers, and ancillary groups like the Laboratory, Pharmacy and Rehabilitation.  We have held several planning meetings to talk about the backfill spaces, and we have worked with Finance to develop budgets for us to use for the next few years to work on the spaces as time and money allows.  Some of the spaces will be merely spruced up with a bit of paint and cleaning, which makes them very easy to get ready for the new groups.  Some of the spaces need major renovations, involving taking out walls, installing new mechanical systems, making major changes to the existing entrances, or adding sprinkler systems for better fire protection.  As you can imagine, with these vast differences in complexity, we have some backfill projects that will be less than $100,000 and several that will be more than $1,000,000. 

As for how we do the actual renovations, for any of you who have been a party to a renovation in your home, imagine if you only had one bathroom and that was the bathroom you had to renovate!  Also imagine that during the renovation, you were required to keep the toilet functional while you renovated the rest of the bathroom, which required gutting the bathroom and starting anew.  That is what we deal with at ACH, since we can't just close down the hospital to perform a renovation.  We have kids who need us, and we can't let them down! 

This is not an easy process, but our team of facilities designers, project managers, and our architecture and engineering firm have become very adept at making this process work.  We do not have a large in-house staff - there are 5 main players (one construction director, one construction project manager, one facilities planning director (me!), one equipment planner, and one interior designer) - who make most of the work happen.  We are also supported by our Maintenance team, including electricians, stationary engineers, plumbers, and other craftsmen, and we have a great VP who keeps us all going (no it's not time for my performance evaluation J).  Working together, we do accomplish many renovations every year, from minor painting jobs to major buildings like the South Wing. 

The design process starts with a functional plan, developed by the end users (the folks who will occupy the space).  We sit down with those folks to look over their plans, meet with them in the spaces we'll be renovating, and work through demolition and building floor plans, mechanical/electrical/plumbing designs, and equipment needs.  Then we have our contractors bid the projects and get ready for construction. The backfill projects will be handled in the same way.

Right now, we are working with Orthopedics and Radiology to develop the plans for what happens to the current (soon to be old) Emergency Department space.  We are looking to expand both the Orthopedic Clinic and Radiology.  We'll provide more exam room spaces, a larger cast room, a procedure room, and an x-ray room in the Orthopedic Clinic and a larger sedation area, a better x-ray reading/evaluation room, and better patient x-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, and interventional radiology spaces for Radiology.  We are also looking at a shared waiting room space for the two groups, as well as a better flow pattern for patients and staff.  A group of architects, physicians, and nursing staff, along with yours truly, have met several times to develop the plans, talk about equipment moves and purchases, and consider in-depth how to accomplish the work while at the same time keeping the Ortho and Radiology areas open to patients.  Needless to say, it's a big task!

Over the next year, we will continue our backfill planning with other groups moving into other leftover areas and spaces.  Potential uses for some of the other spaces are an expanded STAT Laboratory (where they do fast lab value turnarounds for the ORs and other areas), more call room space for physicians and residents, more space for physical and occupational therapy, and moves of a few clinics to give them expanded patient care spaces, just to name a few.  I'll keep you updated on the progress.

Wishing you and yours a safe and pleasant New Year!  2012 will bring on the opening of the South Wing, as well as ACH's 100th birthday!

Lori Howard
Director of Facilities Planning
Arkansas Children's Hospital

Arkansas Children's Hospital
1 Children's Way
Little Rock, AR 72202-3591

Call: 501-364-1100
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