Florida Hospital for Children: Tim Burrill, Assistant Vice President & Project Administrator

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When redesigning hospitals, certain concepts are required due to the nature of the work done behind the walls of the facility. Planners with Florida Hospital in Orlando, Fla., however, take a more imaginative approach, going beyond where to place the operating room. The intentional design for the facility’s Ginsberg Tower and the child-focused adventure in the works for the Florida Hospital for Children show signs of the imagination and creativity that brings families to Orlando.

“We did this before evidence-based design was a common phrase,” said Tim Burrill, Assistant Vice President and Project Administrator. “We were clear that there was some evidence out there, but not a lot. So, we set out at the beginning to establish design drivers that outline the key factors that we wanted to include in our project.”

Florida Hospital has grown from a 20-bed cottage on the shores of Lake Estelle to today’s 2,188-bed organization with seven locations throughout Central Florida. The six-year Ginsburg Tower project, which opened in November, was an expansion of Florida Hospital’s largest hospital within the Florida Hospital System.  Located in downtown Orlando, this 15-story facility grew from a 900-bed facility to a 1,100-bed facility. In addition, the expansion project enabled Florida Hospital to relocate its cardiology and emergency services to that location.

Key Design Factors

Burrill said that one key factor in the hospital’s design was to make it visually arresting, both outside and inside. The goal was to give the building a unique look and feel, making it a place that promoted healing.

“The best compliment I get when I give a tour, and the one I’m most proud of, is when people tell me ‘This doesn’t look like a hospital,’” he said.

Another design driver was to create a healing environment, Burrill said. With that, planners paid specific attention to the colors, materials and lighting used. In addition, the building includes large windows in every patient room. Floor to ceiling windows let in more natural light.

“Since the hospital was built next to a lake, great care was taken to situate each patient room so that patients can see the lake from their beds,” he said.

A third design driver was to make sure the organization received value for the assets that were spent, although that wasn’t the sole focus of the design planning.

“That allowed us the freedom to create a hospital that really goes above and beyond the typical hospital when it comes to environment,” Burrill said. “All design drivers were key to us as we went on our journey.”

Speaking of environment, LEED certification wasn’t a factor in the renovation, Burrill said, although considerations were made during the process to maintain an efficient building.

“We didn’t set out for LEED certification at the time but we certainly took that into consideration as we went along,” he said. “Due to the nature of things that go on in a hospital, LEED certification is sort of a moving target, due to the regulations and requirements we must follow.”

Project Challenges

Burrill, who has spent his entire career at Florida Hospital, came to his current position with a background in finance and operations, but no construction experience. That lack of knowledge base didn’t last long, however, as the project administrator picked up a working knowledge of construction as the project progressed. He worked as the liaison between the design team, the construction team and the hospital. At all times, Burrill made sure that the project stayed on budget and kept the clinical team involved in the design process.

 “I ended up being the glue that held the project together,” he said.

One thing project personnel did to get users engaged in the project was set up a design space where patient rooms were mocked up and tested. This process paid off when, as they were moving beds into the space, it was discovered that a piece of millwork could become damaged if left the way it was designed. That design flaw never would have been discovered if they had not created the simulated patient room, Burrill said.

“Our architect worked on the problem and came up with a simple solution that looked like it belonged all along,” he said.

Children’s Hospital and Disney

The Ginsburg Tower project team has moved on to planning renovations for the Florida Hospital for Children. Burrill is staying with the same group of architects and engineers as were used for the Ginsburg Tower, meaning he doesn’t have to take the time to establish relationships with new vendors. He already has a trusted group on the job.

“This has extreme value,” he said. “If you’re comfortable with the team and you think they are competitively bidding the project then stick with them if you can. You already know how to work with them.”

Another trusted member of the team on this project is the Walt Disney Company. Disney IMAGINEERSrs are creating a three-story lobby for the Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Children’s Hospital that is fully interactive. When the lobby is complete, children will be able to draw on a cave wall, create jungle sounds on musical step pads, fish for virtual salmon or play in a magical world of popping bubbles and dancing sea horses. The lobby is scheduled to open in the beginning of 2010.

“The IMAGINEERSrs have helped us think through a lot of things,” he said. “The best way to look at it is that they’re creating an environment that tells a story.”

Hospitals for Children and Adults

Design projects for children’s hospitals allow you to be more creative and Burrill said they can actually be more fun.

“You can use different themes and colors and lighting, you name it,” he said. “You get to play with a lot more.”

Other Partners

Another partner that has helped the design team create a healing environment for the Children’s Hospital is Philips, which has worked with the hospital to incorporate its Ambient Experience. Ambient Experience solutions integrate architecture and technology to create spaces that the patient can personalize, wrapping the patient in a relaxing ambience. Some of Phillips ambient technology and design has already been installed in the hospital’s pediatric emergency department.

“They use the ambient experience a lot with their CTs and MRIs,” Burrill said. “But, we’re applying it throughout the children’s hospital.”

Imagination and creativity are features visitors to Orlando, Fla. expect to see on a visit to the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World. Now, with the innovative renovations and new construction at the facilities of Florida Hospital of Orlando, a trip to the hospital can be an experience similar to a visit to Cinderella’s castle.

-by Kathy Knaub-Hardy

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