Relationships are the foundation of good business, and building them takes time and patience. In the design world, that sometimes means accepting smaller jobs along the way while waiting for the opportunity to take on a large project. That’s how Haskell earned the chance to design a new $95 million Patient Tower at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Westover Hills in San Antonio, Texas.
“This is the result of Chris Morales having a relationship of working with CHRISTUS on and off for 10 years,” said Mark Sweeney, Chief Resource Architect and Senior Project Manager at Haskell.
Morales is a Vice President in Haskell Healthcare Design and has led more than $2.5 billion in design work for healthcare projects. He had secured several consulting projects with Christus Health System over the years and did some design work on a smaller project a few hours from San Antonio in Tyler, Texas. Morales also had worked with CHRISTUS previously to develop planning and design standards for rooms in intensive care units, neonatal intensive care units and post-partum units across the health system.
Each successful interaction built trust and familiarity, establishing the relationship that led to Haskell’s opportunity to design the expansion project, which includes a five-story tower in the quickly growing Westover Hills area.
Morales said the project’s scope was guided by the master plan, which began in early 2020, just before COVID-19 swept through the country. Work on the plan began with analyzing the health system’s clinical and operational processes and data to determine future needs of the community. It’s a process made easier when owners are clear in partnering to develop their strategic objectives, Morales said.
“They (CHRISTUS officials) were tremendous in prioritizing and providing clarity in their needs,” he said. “This owner has strength of leadership and clarity in their management of their campus, health system and assets.”
The 176,000-square-foot Westover Hills expansion supports 120 patient beds, including 30 post-partum rooms, 44 intensive-care unit rooms on two floors and 14 neonatal ICU rooms. One floor is shell space available for future expansion.
The owner supported including numerous design features that provide an enhanced environment for patient care.
CHRISTUS is a mission-based nonprofit, and Morales said its leadership challenged the Haskell team to consistently represent the system’s brand and ability to care for patients.
Jennifer De La Rosa (formerly Nussbaum), Haskell Director of Healthcare Planning, has become the go-to planner for CHRISTUS Health. She’s done numerous master plans for the system, including the neonatal intensive care unit at CHRISTUS’ Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, Texas. She said she appreciated the direction that CHRISTUS provided.
“The leader of the design projects from CHRISTUS is decisive,” she said. “There’s a level of trust between us, which I think is very valuable.”
The fact that Haskell planners and designers are ever conscious of the high costs of construction has deepened that trust. Nussbaum said many firms create grandiose designs and spaces that a client’s budget can’t support.
“We, as a team and as a healthcare design firm, always pay attention to cost,” she said. “We help leadership understand the cost so they can make an educated decision about it.”
She led two user-group discussions to give the Westover Hills hospital staff opportunities to provide feedback on how space is used in rooms. CHRISTUS’ standards define some factors, such as the hardware, security and functionality of doors.
CHRISTUS has design standards that allow hospital rooms to accommodate patients with any level of medical needs. For example, the health system prefers that each room have a headwall, which goes on the wall behind the patient’s bed and handles medical and electrical functions. During group discussions, some staff members asked about using ceiling-mounted booms instead of a headwall. In general, booms can be more expensive and weren’t included in the budget for this project, she said.
The project’s budget was created before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, supply chain issues and other factors have caused costs to soar, Nussbaum said. The Haskell team adjusted to help lower costs distinguishing between “wants” and “needs”, such as reducing the medical gas count in some rooms when possible and practical.
Nussbaum said she was excited that the expansion would offer a higher-level acuity for obstetrics and NICU services. Currently, patients needing advanced medical services are transferred to a nearby CHRISTUS hospital.
“With this new building, we can offer that service in this community,” she said. “They need to build the staff, but they are certain they can do it.”
Sweeney said an exciting part of the Westover Hills project and others like it was seeing the faces of the employees when they learned about coming improvements to help them better serve patients and the community.
“Ultimately, the project serves the public,” he said. “But the facilities are only as good a tool as the people who are using them, believe they are.”
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Haskell delivers more than $1.5 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,000 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
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