By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
Seven months from the biggest move in its history, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s is actively working through the logistics of shifting patients and services to its new O’Fallon hospital.
The approximately $300 million project will open this November northwest of Green Mount Road and Interstate 64.The total investment includes dedicated dollars to the future repurposing of the Belleville Health Campus, which will continue to provide outpatient services along with land purchase, overall construction, purchase of new technologies and equipment, and other project needs for both the hospital and attached physician office building, named the O’Fallon Health Center.
The hospital is about 80 percent complete.
“We’re currently on schedule,” said Kelly Barbeau, marketing/communications manager for St. Elizabeth’s. “We’re preparing for Nov. 4 to be our opening day.”
On that day, a well-coordinated but massive move will take place. All patients will be transferred by ambulance from the current facility, in the 200 block of South Third Street in Belleville, to the new hospital in O’Fallon. Remaining personnel will also be shifted.
“We will be starting really early with our Incident Command Centers, probably around 2 a.m., with patient moves starting later in the morning,” Barbeau said.
The hospital is partnering with several local ambulance agencies from across its service area and expects to have about 21 rigs in action that day. A nurse will also accompany each patient in an ambulance on the trip from Belleville to O’Fallon to ensure patient care.
The number of patients won’t be known until much closer to that date, but all individual needs will be taken into consideration, with a patient task force team planning moves ahead of time.
“We are managing our elective cases leading up to the move and anticipate a very controlled environment,” President and CEO Peg Sebastian said.
At the request of the IBJ, St. Elizabeth’s provided the following, detailed scenario regarding the move:
During the week of the move, clinical teams will be assessing every patient who is in the hospital through Friday morning. This will occur every four hours at first, then every two hours closer to the day. By midnight on Nov. 3, the team will have an understanding of the number of patients going to the new hospital and those who will be able to be discharged.
Early Nov. 4, the hospital will activate two Incident Command Centers, one in Belleville and one in O’Fallon. St. Elizabeth’s continuously trains staff under the Hospital Incident Command System, which is an incident management system that hospitals use to manage emergencies or large-scale, planned events.
That morning, the new hospital will be officially declared open and “the carefully coordinated closure and transition” from the current Belleville hospital will begin. Patient transfers will continue throughout the day until all patients are moved. Then, a careful sweep of the old hospital will be conducted and the building will be secured.
Patients will be given color-coded bands with bar codes as identifiers for staff and EMS on the location of the hospital they are going to. Move teams will work simultaneously throughout the day to move patients to their new rooms. Hundreds of colleagues will be on site to help patients and family support persons through the change.
The hospital will use a system called EM Tracker, which scans the barcode on patient bands to constantly track each patient as they leave Belleville and arrive at their new patient room in the new facility.
“It is estimated that it will take about 80 minutes round trip for an ambulance to cycle through with one patient and be back at Belleville to take another,” the hospital said.
A mock patient drill was scheduled April 1 to run personnel through the relocation scenario. The drill was to incorporate movement of volunteer “fake patients” on stretchers from an actual patient room into an ambulance to be driven to the entrance of the new facility, unloaded and moved to new patient room.
“We’ll do another one closer to the opening date,” Barbeau said.
The replacement hospital is about 350,000 square feet on 120 acres of land, compared to the almost 1 million square feet of the current facility that sits on 17 acres in Belleville. The replacement hospital has 144 private patient beds, which is fewer than St. Elizabeth’s has now.
Fewer beds are needed because more patients are receiving outpatient care and private rooms help decrease the spread of infections. Nationwide the utilization of inpatient services have decreased due to enhanced technology, improved treatment protocols and efforts to reduce cost of care.
There will also be far fewer entrances.
“Currently we have 16 public entrances in the hospital, which can be confusing to find where you need to go for a particular service. We will be moving down to three, simple public entrances to improve the patient/visitor experience immediately at our doors. You’ll come into the Emergency Department, the main hospital or the O’Fallon Health Center,” Barbeau said.
The main road into the hospital will be off Green Mount Road.
CEO reflects on the move
For CEO and President Peg Sebastian the upcoming move is a bit of déjà vu.
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland, a sister hospital, moved to its new facility in 2013, and Sebastian was head of the Highland hospital during that move.
“One of the most important issues we have addressed in the new hospital design is ease of access for patients and designs which enhance care for patients,” Sebastian said in a statement. “The current hospital has grown and been added on to many times, resulting in services being spread out all over the campus. Patients expect easier access and centrally located services. During the design phase, we spent a lot of time listening to patients to determine the best layout and location for each service.”
The ultimate goal, she said, is “to create a healingenvironment that combines technology and efficiencies to provide region leading, high quality health care.”
The 120-acre campus provides for many growth opportunities and allows for outdoor space for patients, visitors and colleagues, she said.
Technology has dramatically advanced since St. Elizabeth’s opened in 1964, especially surgery and medical imaging platforms, Sebastian said.
“The design of the new hospital allows us to upgrade the technology throughout. In some cases, everything from floor to ceiling will become state-of-the-art, new technology,” she said. “The day we open we will be the most technologically advanced hospital on both sides of the river for that moment in time.”
A public open house is slated for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7 and 8. Other invitation-only events are planned as well.
A blessing and dedicating involving the bishop of the diocese will be Oct. 4.
A family fun day will take place Sept. 9 on the parking lot. It will feature a bike rodeo, child car seat safety, limited tours of the nursery and a chance to meet midwives and Cardinal Glennon pediatricians, who work with St. Elizabeth’s.
A “key handoff,” marking the completion of construction and the handover of the building from contractor to the hospital, will likely be around Aug. 10.
From that point on, things will really heat up, Barbeausaid.
“We’ll be getting our colleagues oriented. From the time we take the keys until about the ninth of October, we’ll have to get all of our 1,500 employees and physicians, any vendors, and everybody oriented to the new hospital,” she said. “Everybody will have a checklist and they’ll have to know where things are. They’ll have to be oriented to the general hospital and oriented to their department.”
The hospital building will be closed, and under terms of the certificate of need from the state cannot be used for hospital purposes.
“That’s what is required by the IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health). We will move everything and everyone out of the hospital. We turn off our emergency room light (in Belleville) and at the same time turn it on at O’Fallon,” Barbeau said.
Some physicians will move with the new hospital while others will stay behind.
Plans for the Belleville campus are to re-envision it to become St. Elizabeth’s Health Center-Belleville. It will offer:
• A same-day ambulatory clinic,
• Physical and occupational therapy,
• Radiology and laboratory services and
• Primary care physicians’ and health-care specialists’ offices.