Norton Children’s Hospital Opens Expansive New Unit

By Roxanne Squires

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Norton Children’s Hospital has opened a new $12 million unit built to serve hundreds of sick and injured kids every year as a part of the hospital’s larger $78 million renovation project.

The new 24-bed medical/surgical unit will provide care for patients with respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological diseases, and children recovering from a variety of surgical procedures.

The 31,000-square-foot space encompasses the entire sixth floor and features private patient rooms along with a teen entertainment room, toddler playroom and family nourishment spaces. Previously, the area had been a conference room and office space.

The goal of the project was to expand inpatient medical-surgical bed capacity, to allow space for expanding the existing Pediatric Intensive Care and to create the Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. 

“The project is a phase of an ongoing, multi-year, multi-phase master facility plan originally developed in 2015,” said David Boome, system director, Design & Construction, for Norton Healthcare.

The expansion has been constructed on a floor of the hospital previously used for clinical support offices and education functions. Prior to that, the floor was originally the roof level of the original hospital, which was subsequently expanded vertically in 1997.

Key design features include a single loaded corridor with patient rooms on the exterior perimeter and staff support space in between patient rooms. A single nurse station serves the floor with staff support spaces dispersed around the floor. This allows close access to the patient rooms by nursing and caregiving staff. 

“Access to natural light is a key design element in this renovation,” said Boome. “Patient activity rooms and staff work areas have generous window areas.”

Furthermore, the complete conversion of the floor from office/support to inpatient allows all of the supporting technology to be integrated with the design. 

Electronic Medical Record is available in each patient room as well as nurse station. 

Nurse call, patient monitoring systems, communications systems, an electronic patient board, and patient entertainment/information systems are all integrated into the building infrastructure.

“The biggest challenge, in any renovation project, is working within the bounds of a functioning hospital,” said Boome. “Space is at a premium in this facility, thus the challenge of safely working around the existing facility is complicated by having limited access to the sixth-floor area.”

Boome explained that detailed planning involving the entire hospital staff, caregivers, consultants, contractor and subs was essential—followed by a day-to-day and sometimes hour-by-hour monitoring of the project sequence to ensure the safety of patients and guest during construction operations. 

A second challenge was the existing mechanical rooms remaining on the floor. Originally part of the roof, the mechanical systems could not be moved and much attention was paid to designing an efficient layout while dealing with the location and access issues posed by the mechanical rooms.

Now, the space is quiet, despite being next to major mechanical spaces. It applies an easy-to-navigate layout, is efficient in its use of available space, and is made especially pleasant by access to natural light. 

“Most significantly, the team was able to convert a non-clinical space for clinical in-patient use; creating a space that supports and contributes, rather than detracts from the patient experience,” said Boome.

With the medical/surgical unit complete, work will begin next month to build the Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

Other areas to be renovated as part of the overall project include the “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center and two neonatal intensive care units. The entire renovation project will be completed in 2022.

Construction of this unit began January 2018. Construction to the west side of the facility was completed Nov. 30, 2018, while the east side reached completion on Jan. 31, 2019.