Methodist Stone Oak Hospital: Raymond Winn, Administrative Director of Facilities and Support Services

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The opening of a new hospital is always a time filled with promise and anticipation. But at Methodist Health System’s Methodist Stone Oak Hospital, looking to the future has taken on greater meaning. In planning for the construction of the hospital, Methodist Health took great effort to make the hospital not only new for the present community, but also relevant for future patients. Building in flexibility features to keep the hospital cutting-edge in years to come, the hospital has reached the distinction of being a “hospital of the future.”

Methodist Stone Oak is one of 24 facilities in the Methodist Health Care System, a health system serving 26 counties throughout southern Texas. Methodist Stone Oak has become the newest facility, opening its doors in March of 2009. The construction began three years prior when the health system’s board approved plans for the creation of a new hospital in Methodist Stone Oak, an area of San Antonio. Now completed, the hospital boasts over 320,000 feet, five stories and includes a medical office building which houses administration.

Expecting Expansion

Raymond Winn, Administrative Director of Facilities and Support Services, has been with Methodist Stone Oak for just over a year and with the greater Methodist System for three years. “Our main focus has been on giving this hospital the ability to expand to serve the community’s needs,” explains Winn. The hospital’s design allows each floor to expand outward by 20%. Because of this capability, the hospital is described as a “hospital of the future,” meaning if in the future the facility needs to grow, the building can expand without shutting down services or departments.

A Design with Patients and Staff in Mind

To create an innovative hospital, Methodist Stone Oak began by holding an architecture competition to find the best design. The winning submission came from a firm in New York City. “This was one of the best designs because it was so new and distinct. Our lay out sets us apart. You won’t find your typical nurses stations here, there are portals of care on the first floor and departments are organized by the level of care involved. If you are visiting for a diagnostic procedure or test, you’ll find these departments right near the lobby. Our goal was to separate the patients from the visitors.” Privacy for patients was a paramount concern. Separate corridors were created for patients to keep them private from the visiting public.

Creating a user-friendly environment meant designing a first floor hub where patients could easily find their appropriate department. A streamlined corridor was constructed to mimic the style of an airport. Service markers in this hall let patients turn off at their appropriate department. “This was designed with the consumer in mind; we incorporated the patients’ needs along with aesthetic touches. There are lots of open spaces and the hospital looks rather futuristic with all of the glass that is used. This creates a relaxed ambience and you feel like you are in a hotel rather than a hospital.”

Real World Solutions

But the design process didn’t stop with the architects. “Teams of staff were put together to review designs and give input.  Changes were able to be made, even when construction was being done, at the request of these teams. It could be something small, like moving the receptacles up on walls so staff wouldn’t need to lean over a patient’s head to plug something in.  Our goal was to make the hospital as comfortable for the staff as for the patient and having the input from staff was instrumental in achieving this goal.”

Attention was also paid to room design and how staff interact with patients. Rooms have been set up so nurses can see the faces of patients as they walk through the halls. “There’s no bathroom blocking the view, that is set off to the side, so when nurses walk into rooms, they are looking and talking directly to the patients and the staff love this improvement.

Technology for today and tomorrow

Of course, the new hospital was able to incorporate the latest technology in the construction process, to offer cutting edge capabilities to staff and patients. The hospital is fully wireless and there are computers in patient rooms, which allow staff to be in contact with patients at all times, thereby improving patient satisfaction levels. “Staying current with technology is always going to be a challenge,” says Winn. “Because technology is always changing we are going to need additional equipment and require the ability to add or take out devices, so we shelled these devices  inside the building so we don’t have to shut down services when there needs to be an upgrade.”

Aside from the physical attributes of the hospital, Methodist Stone Oak is the first hospital to open as a diversity accredited hospital. Also designated as a Hispanic Health Care Hospital, Methodist Stone Oak offers Spanish communication in both print and verbal interactions.  “Spanish-speaking residents and international patients from Central and South America really appreciate this feature,” says Winn. “We have staff who are becoming accredited as interpreters, who are taking classes to become certified as a medical interpreter.” Although a good percentage of staff already speak fluent Spanish, this language certification is important for the medical setting and for safe, effective communication.  “Whether it’s the design of our building or our staff’s communication with patients, we are constantly making sure Methodist Stone Oak meets the current needs of the community.”

-by Jacqueline Rupp

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