Hospital design: nailing your facility master plan

Hospitals and the people working in them hold a special place in our communities. They treat us, they heal us and they care for us. They directly make our lives better.

As hospitals do more and more for patients, hospital buildings carry out more and more functions. From surgery and emergency rooms to high-tech medical labs, family waiting rooms and everything in between, a sound builder should plan for it all ahead of time.

So what is a facility master plan?

Facility Master Plan

A facility master plan is a comprehensive document and architectural drawing that outlines precisely what builders will construct both initially and in the future. It outlines space allocation and usage, provides a blueprint for facility expansion and incorporates statistical trends to set up Design-Builders for the best possible build.

But there’s just a little more to it than sitting down one day and drawing up some nice-looking plans in a 3D design program.

As you can imagine, builders and administrators face highly complex projects when undertaking hospital design and hospital construction. As builders, we’ve seen extensive research that shows Evidence-Based Design (EBD) directly helps patients in their recoveries.

So, long before a hammer can hit a nail or a shovel can break ground, first comes an in-depth phase of research and planning. To us, any builder worth his salt has a sound vision for a hospital before creating a hospital’s master facilities plan, and we evaluate a long list of factors before making one. Here are the four phases a good contractor will have when creating your master facility plan.

Strategic plan review and business assessment

A master facility plan has to stack seamlessly, brick by brick, onto your existing hospital strategic plan. Why? Because a hospital master facility plan dictates the rest of a hospital build, and your hospital building dictates precisely what kind of care you can provide.

Before anything else, your builder should perform a business assessment to thoroughly understand you, your hospital, your business model, your goals, your anticipated growth and your vision for the future.

Execution of a sound business assessment includes interviews with your staff to understand supply and demand in the service area, lots of walking the halls, and a thorough reading of your hospital strategic plan.

When The Korte Company conducts staff interviews, we’ll talk to different staff members to learn different things in several interview phases. Our white paper How to Manage a Healthcare Construction Project from Start to Finish explains this process in more detail.

Combing through the strategic plan involves a financial evaluation to align your facility’s growth plan with your plan for long-term growth. This is important because planning for potential expansions up front saves you money when you actually expand your hospital.

A builder should evaluate not just how to stay under budget during the initial build, but also how to keep your expansions on budget. We’re proud that we’ve seen great results when executing this strategy with a number of hospitals, particularly Anderson Hospital.

Upon completing your strategic plan review, your builder goal should have a strong understanding of how to phase out the build and expansions over time. Because we listen, we’ll know your hospital plan and your goals in and out, and we’ll just need some data to finish our research.

Data to identify trends

Data influences facility master plan

When it comes to making the physical plans for your hospital, builders will review recent historical and operational data of the internal and external premises of your building. Of course, when we start a new hospital build we have different sets of data than when we renovate or expand an existing hospital.

For a new build, your contractor will thoroughly assess site data and conduct land surveys of existing site conditions and soil information. Part of this involves a look at historical weather conditions, including temperature, humidity, wind flow and sunlight. With all this data and knowledge in hand, we run fluid dynamic models that allow us to maximize the natural resources around the build site.

In the case of a renovation or expansion, builders will gather additional data about your hospital’s existing operations. The Korte Company has teams conduct walk-throughs of your hospital to perform bed/matrix censuses and do a thorough mapping of existing flow, staffing and adjacencies.

Your builder will gather data on how many people are coming in and out of different areas of your hospital and the numbers of people flowing in and out of inpatient and outpatient service areas. With this knowledge, we’ll sharpen our pencils and start to project future clinical volume for the next several years. For you, the facility owner, this can be a very exciting step.

Initial department space allocation

The research is done. Now, our engineers and architects design the most efficient possible use of your hospital’s space. Remember all the functions your hospital holds? Architects keep each of those in mind in the space planning process.

Space allocation is based on existing and new building locations, department and room identifications and flow. With a thorough understanding of how people use different areas of your hospital, your contractor will plot the flow of foot-traffic and functionality of those areas. Keeping all the data in mind, the architects allocate the most efficient amount of space to each of the various functions your hospital serves (e.g. patient rooms, OR, ER, labs, entryways).

Conceptual site plan and architectural drawings

At this point of master facility planning, your builder presents the site plan and preliminary architectural drawings to you.

As the owner, you should expect these drawings to show layouts of the site plan, architectural floor plans, exterior elevations, and an outline of specifications.

Our experience has shown us there may be multiple solutions to any given design. In such cases, we present a number of executable options, each with its distinct advantages. Every project is unique and each has its own set of possible solutions. We’re acutely aware that modifications are an integral part of the process.

See a master facility plan in action

The people of Southern Illinois waited 50 years to build Anderson Hospital, and they’re committed to keeping it a top notch, high-tech place of care. Through the years, we’ve done extensive expansion work for Anderson Hospital. To see these techniques applied on a real hospital with real patients, click below and download our case study on the Construction Program of Anderson Hospital.

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