Chester County Hospital completes expansion, adds 72 private rooms
The waiting room and unit feature abundant natural light.
(Editor's note: This article first appeared in our Spring 2014 issue)
By Steven Hoffman
When Chester County Hospital officials unveiled the Mother and Baby Pavilion on Friday, May 9—just in time for Mother's Day—it put a big bow on one of the most significant expansion projects in the hospital's 122-year history.
The 93,000 square-foot tower project, which took more than two years to complete, resulted in the addition of 72 private patient rooms—24 rooms on each of the three new levels.
“The Lasko Tower and many other investments that we are making in technology and program expansions represent our continued commitment to the Chester County community,” explained Michael J. Duncan, president and CEO of Chester County Hospital, which is part of Penn Medicine. “The completion of the Lasko Tower with its beautiful spaces and advanced capabilities is a major milestone in our history but we have much more to come. As the newest hospital in the University of Pennsylvania Health System, we are bringing the expertise of one of the top health systems in the country right here to West Chester and combining this with the already superb clinicians and programs at our hospital.”
The $45.2 million Lasko Tower expansion is part of the hospital's long-term strategic plan to meet the needs of a growing community. There was a 15 percent population increase in the county between 2000 and 2010, and the growing—and aging—population needs more preventive care, emergency care, and other medical services. The expansion project will allow the hospital to improve services in a variety of areas. The Mother and Baby Pavilion occupies the second floor of the tower. The fourth floor of the Lasko Tower opened on July 1, 2013 for telemetry patients, followed by the opening of the Varian TrueBeam Radiation Oncology Unit in September of 2013. The third floor of the Lasko Tower, an orthopaedic and surgical unit, debuted on January 6, 2014.
While this work has been ongoing, the hospital has been making other changes to meet the evolving needs of the community.
“As these new units have been completed, the hospital has been converting semi-private rooms to private rooms throughout the hospital for the greater comfort of all patients and their loved ones,” explained Lisa Huffman, marketing communications specialist for Chester County Hospital.
The design of the new rooms was created with significant input from the hospital’s team of nurses. Each room offers plenty of amenities, including a large window, a multi-functional sofa for visitors who want to stay for an extended period of time, a table and chairs for eating, a flat-panel TV, free Internet access, in-room controls for individual lighting and room temperature, and a European-style bathroom that is designed to reduce the risk of a fall. Each room was designed with three distinct zones—a patient zone, a caregiver zone, and a family zone.
According to Angela Coladonato, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, “We looked at a lot of evidence-based practices in other hospitals and considered what made the most sense not only for our patients and their families, but for our caregivers as well.”
A major part of the expansion project was an additional Telemetry Unit for patients who need continuous monitoring of the heart, medications, or other instabilities.
In recent years, Chester County Hospital has seen an increased demand for the beds in its Telemetry Unit, where patients’ electrical heart rhythms and other vital signs are continuously tracked and transmitted to a central monitoring station. Such close monitoring, along with a 4-to-1 patient-to-nurse ratio, ensures that these patients get any necessary intervention quickly for heart-related issues.
The rooms on the Telemetry Unit have large windows that allow for ample light. With this natural light and the outdoor views that can be enjoyed in the rooms and common areas, the unit more closely resembles an upscale hotel than a hospital.
“Studies show that patients who get more natural light feel better and actually heal faster,” explained Lou Meilink, a principal with Ballinger, the architectural firm that oversaw the design of the Lasko Tower. The interior features green and tan earth tones throughout the unit with warm woods used for the trims and furniture, the ceilings above the nurses’ stations, and the floors in patients' rooms. The neutral, nature-inspired colors are soothing for patients.
“Sleep is linked to healing,” Meilink explained. “The finishes and ceilings are designed to control sound levels, and we spent a lot of time on insulation and wall construction between the corridors and the rooms.”
The third floor of the Lasko tower features a state-of-the-art orthopaedic surgical unit that enhances what was already a sophisticated orthopaedics program. This new unit houses 24 new private rooms dedicated to the post-operative care of patients who have undergone orthopaedic and other surgeries.
Chet Simmons, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon with Chester County Hospital, explained that there will be a greater demand for these services in the future. “We’ve always provided great care for our orthopaedic patients of all ages,” Simmons explained. “But the demographics in our community are such that the number of orthopaedic patients in the area will be growing exponentially over the next 10 years as the population matures. Combine aging with a generation that is more active than those before them, and that will lead to a lot of worn-out joints and a significant increase in the need for orthopedic care.”
Simmons added that Chester County Hospital wants to continue to expand the orthopaedic program so that local residents have access to the best level of care close to home.
“We keep growing our orthopaedic program so we can continue to provide local access to the level of care our community needs and deserves,” he said. “We are bringing in new doctors and expanding our capabilities. The new unit allows us to offer the highest level of care and patient comfort for a rapid recovery and rehabilitation.”
In addition to specially equipped patient rooms, the orthopaedic unit includes a modern rehabilitation gym that features additional tools like an auto simulator to help patients return to full function faster.
The phase of the project to open most recently is the brand new maternity unit on the second floor of the Lasko Tower. Chester County Hospital has always been known for providing excellent maternity care and offering the latest technologies and medical expertise. The design of the spacious and modern new unit has raised that level of care even higher by adding special amenities that create a comfortable, nurturing environment for the entire family during those first precious hours following the birth of a child. The new maternity unit guarantees that each new mother has a private room. The unit is designed to ensure a family-friendly feel throughout.
Mothers are encouraged to keep their babies with them in their rooms during their stay so they can bond with and personally care for their baby. There is also a nursery located at the center of the unit that allows the new moms to feel comfortable taking a nap or a short break in the first days after a delivery.
Each floor of the Lasko Tower has two nursing stations that are designed so that nurses can oversee the patients’ care. During the design process for the expansion project, hospital officials made sure to create flexible spaces that can be modified in the future as patient volumes and health care indicators change.
Another major part of the project is the brand new TrueBeam Linear Accelerator suite, which was designed to ease anxiety for patients. Here, patients with certain kinds of cancer receive more powerful and precise radiation treatment than what was previously available. The TrueBeam system is state-of-the-art, delivering treatment with a remarkable level of control and synchronization. Unlike the previous generation of cancer-fighting equipment, the TrueBeam system has built-in capabilities that enable it to automatically and specifically target and destroy tumors with maximum doses of radiation while also protecting surrounding healthy tissue.
“Having the TrueBeam allows us to concentrate the radiation dose more efficiently to where the cancer is and reduce any radiation to unaffected normal tissue so that we can minimize the side effects for the patient,” says Andre Konski, MD, Medical Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology.
When this suite was being designed, the architects took into consideration the anxiety that a patient would feel as he or she walked down a long corridor and into a room with a large and potentially intimidating piece of medical equipment. Designers included three beautiful, back-lit nature scenes in the corridor. There are also two back-lit scenes featuring a blue sky, clouds, and trees, giving patients a peaceful view to focus on while receiving the treatment.
With the Lasko Tower now complete, hospital officials are already looking ahead to future enhancements.
Chester County Hospital is in the early stages of constructing a satellite location called Penn Medicine Southern Chester County in the West Grove area. This medical office building will include medical practices, including primary care and specialists, and will also provide space for a state-of-the-art radiology center, lab work, and physical therapy. The new building will open in 2015.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email email@example.com.
The sustainable design of the tower project
Chester County Hospital has been working toward reducing its overall carbon footprint for the last decade, implementing sustainable options for energy, recycling, and waste reduction. The plant operations team had already installed water-efficient plumbing, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and compact fluorescent lighting, so when it came time for new construction every effort was made to include as many sustainable features as possible. The tower expansion was built on existing paved surface, so there was minimal disruption to the surrounding land. Water-efficient plumbing reduced water use by approximately 20 percent. Energy-efficient HVAC systems use minimal or no ozone-depleting refrigerant chemicals. More than 91 percent of construction waste was recycled.
New tower named for generous benefactors
The new 93,000-square-foot tower at Chester County Hospital is named the Lasko Tower in honor of the Lasko family. The Lasko family has been loyal supporters of Chester County Hospital for many years. Oscar Lasko’s history with the hospital includes a period of time when he served on the hospital’s board of directors and the finance committee.
“Chester County Hospital is the grateful beneficiary of the Lasko family’s extraordinary generosity,” said Kevin O’Brien, senior vice president for development. “They have repeatedly stepped forward to offer philanthropic support to serve the hospital and our community.”