Halifax Health: Jacob Nagib, Senior Project Manager

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There’s a new tower in the state of Florida—the France Tower—a 200 million dollar project which expanded the hospital inpatient bed capacity, as well as creating the largest emergency department in the Florida. The France Tower is the newest addition to Halifax Health, an acute-care medical center with more than 940 beds on two campuses serving Volusia and Flagler counties. There are more than 500 physicians on staff representing 46 medical specialties.

The new, 10-story inpatient tower and Emergency Department are all about space and technology. “It is a high tech building. Totally wireless. Totally integrated in communication,” says Jacob Nagib, Senior Project Manager for the France Tower and in-house engineer for Halifax Health. “You can walk through the building and see that it is state-of-the-art. It is fully computerized, and hopefully, it will reach the point of being a paperless office.”

Emergency Rooms Via Specialization

The new Emergency Department —at 89,000 square feet—more than doubles the bed capacity and has four times the physical space than before. It’s a unique setup. Eight pods are laid out in a linear fashion, and each pod is capable of independent operation with a designated area of specialization. If you came to the emergency department experiencing chest pain, for instance, you would be taken to a state-of-the-art, modular unit developed specifically for the purpose of dealing with chest pain related problems. There is a rapid admissions unit, a trauma unit, a psychiatric unit, and a pediatrics unit, among others.

“The location of the physician and nurse team is centered in each pod,” says Nagib. “You can observe the twelve rooms [that make up each pod] from one spot. The design is so they can be flexible, open and close pods to each other as necessary.”

A lot of thought and planning went into the design with the goal of the necessary devices to save a person’s life never being more than a step or two away. The trauma unit, for instance, can accommodate up to six traumas at a time and those rooms are also equipped to operate as surgical suites. The area is easily accessible by ambulance services and located just beneath the helipad which is large enough to accommodate up to three Medivac helicopters. The helipad is connected to the trauma pod by two high speed elevators.

Patient Centered Rooms

The new patient rooms also increase the level of standard of care. “Every room is dedicated to privacy, but also with some room dedicated to the physician and nurses’ work area, some area for the family to spend time and to spend the night if they want to,” says Nagib. “We figured out how to make it quiet, how to make it look like home, how to integrate all the rooms, patients can be hooked for dialysis, for instance, with central monitoring and all the amenities. This room is big enough that you can walk in and see everything. You can have the whole family there and you’ve still got room.”

Project Management

The France Tower addition has been about four and a half years in the making. Nagib reports that they spent about two years on planning and design before the approval to start building. Halifax Health remained a force behind coordinating the movement. “We had to do a lot with the design,” he says. “We contributed to what the room should look like. Our clinicians would actually help design the rooms because they made mockups of the room first and we tried the room out. We wanted to see how much equipment we could put into it, for instance, or how we would move about the patient and the workspace.”

As the engineer for Halifax Health, Nagib took on the additional role of project manager for the new construction. “I did a lot of research. I wanted to make sure that all the design we were choosing were evidence-based,” he says.

“We worked hand in hand [with the constructors and designers],” Nagib says. “We were definitely involved in the programming, involved in the budgeting and we had a say in what we could live with and what we couldn’t live without. It gave us the upper hand, the leverage to be on top of things. This project came in ahead of schedule, and also came in a little bit under budget.”

The Evolution of the Healthcare Facility

Nagib has been involved in healthcare as a consulting engineer and building inspector for thirty years. He says the complexities of the hospital facility have certainly increased. “The equipment may be getting smaller, but it is more complex on how to wire them, how to maintain them, and you have to be able to control the environment you put them in. An old building is not as conducive as it used to be to simply adding new technology.”

“Things may be more complex,” he says, “but the outcome is good. We are getting to save people’s lives because we have this sophisticated technology.”

-by Tracy Million Simmons

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