The tranquil garden courtyard connecting the new pavilion with the existing hospital features fountains, a shade structure and multiple seating options.

July 6, 2022

Uncommon Collaboration Drives Healthcare Campus Transformation

Through many phases, Haskell designers and construction management navigated complex logistics and sequencing in an active healthcare facility.


With the healthcare needs of the surrounding community growing and changing, administrators of Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Florida, sought help from healthcare planners to imagine the future. Little could anyone involved have imagined what would unfold in the next several years.

Dramatic changes to Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, Florida, included a four-story patient tower with all private rooms and a four-story parking garage with an elevated pedestrian walkway.

That 2015 master-planning engagement comprised of Haskell’s Charlotte N.C.-based healthcare architectural group, previously FreemanWhite, and Haskell’s Advisory team, which developed recommendations for Mease Countryside’s expanding campus that included a four-story patient tower with all private rooms and a four-story parking garage with an elevated pedestrian walkway.

As Mease Countryside’s decision-makers moved forward with those recommendations, they took the uncommon step of awarding design services without taking the project to competitive bid. Based on the relationship formed throughout the master planning effort, FreemanWhite was awarded the architectural design services contract for their campus transformation. As is typical with large healthcare projects, the effort required several enabling projects to position ongoing and active clinical service lines, ultimately permitting “open air” for the bed tower’s construction.

The unique synergies didn’t end there. In the months leading up to the Mease Countryside planning and design processes, Haskell, a global leader in architecture, engineering and construction, expanded its healthcare portfolio by acquiring FreemanWhite and Catalyst, which are now Haskell Healthcare Design and Haskell Healthcare Consulting, respectively. That union was in its infancy when Haskell was chosen in a separate procurement process as construction manager (CM) for the project.

Haskell is a pioneer in design-build project delivery, in which a single entity is responsible from beginning to end of a project. Healthcare systems have not typically used integrated project delivery for their facility needs, and Mease Countryside, part of the BayCare Health System in greater Tampa, Florida, was no different in this respect.

Unprecedented Collaboration

In its role as construction manager, Haskell was hired to build a project designed and engineered outside its purview. The hospital awarded separate contracts for master planning, design and construction. In this case, it was coincidental that planning, architecture, and construction had integrated as a part of an ownership change.

It was to the benefit of the project, the health system and its patients that it did. Because while each entity had separate contractual responsibilities to the project owner, the additional degree of interconnectedness allowed increased collaboration that elevated the final result.

“The project presented huge logistical challenges,” said David Martin, Director of Architecture for Haskell Healthcare. “Being part of Haskell presented the team with resources that allowed consultation and coordination regarding the complicated site logistics and sequencing necessary to facilitate continual operation of the hospital campus.”

Among the improvements unearthed in the study phase, the team made recommendations on optimizing throughput to inform the expansion/redesign of the operating rooms. By reducing $950,000 in inventory that had zero turns and another $840,000 in inventory that was obsolete, planners freed needed space for the expansion and redesign. They also established new processes on receiving standards and optimized the location of supply both in the central core and behind the red line, freeing up space in a tight hallway.

“Our initial scope was the inventory and freeing up the hallway where they were breaking down supplies coming up from the dock,” Healthcare Consultant Nick Brown said. “In addition to their inventory challenges, they had an issue with equipment and supplies scattered throughout the department. We worked with them to consolidate and reduce to make the space for the new rooms.”

The master plan consisted of six sequenced phases commonly referred to as ‘enabling projects’ The first was construction of temporary surface parking, which allowed the Haskell team to build the new garage with a pedestrian bridge and arrival structure.

Simultaneously, there were several enabling projects performed to vacate and demolish an existing outpatient surgery center building to clear site space for the major expansion. These relocations included a chemotherapy/infusion suite with a compounding pharmacy, and an endoscopy renovation and relocation. Subsequently, the four-story patient tower addition was constructed and ancillary renovations of the existing hospital performed, including operating room build-outs, medical record relocation, relocation and build-out of a new main pharmacy, and additional egress stair tower to satisfy existing life-safety egress deficiencies.

With so many moving parts, designers were able to lean on their Haskell counterparts to understand the timing and space needed by construction crews, such as the amount of space necessary for a lay-down yard and crane operations, practical infection control risk assessment plans and interim life-safety strategies, and efficient sequencing of renovation work. The close collaboration played a significant role in keeping the hospital operational throughout.

One solution in particular exemplified the power of the ad hoc partnership.

Salvaging and repurposing an existing canopy and installing it at the temporary entrance saved money and provided a familiar landmark amid renovations.

To accommodate the campus’s new pavilion, the existing main entrance had to be closed, its large and iconic structural canopy removed, and a temporary main entrance established. Together, the design and construction teams proposed salvaging the canopy and moving it to the new temporary location.

“The design team conceived an idea that would save time and cost by relocating the existing space-frame entrance canopy,” Martin said. “We issued somewhat of a challenge to our preconstruction team asking if the relocation was feasible. In theory, it was a simple pick and place. The construction team put their heads and hearts and hands into the concept and came back with a workable solution on which the entire Haskell team (design and construction) collaborated and presented to our mutual client. Baycare’s Mease Countryside team was thrilled by the chance to repurpose materials and take a sustainable approach that would save both construction time and dollars. It was a win-win for all involved.”

Dramatic Improvement and Change

Nearly seven years after the initial engagement, the project has dramatically remade the Mease Countryside campus.

  • It added 134 new private rooms to accommodate current standards of patient preference and pandemic need.
  • It created two floors of medical/surgical patient rooms and consolidated onto one floor critical-care units that were on separate floors in the existing facility
  • A new first-floor 30-bed observation unit makes better use of medical/surgical and critical care beds by allowing patients in a clinically stepped-down setting for monitoring before they are admitted or discharged.
  • It created new meeting spaces, a new registration department, a new gift shop and space for volunteer services.
  • A new, consolidated entrance offers a functional, welcoming environment with security screening and parking valet all in one intentionally intuitive entry sequence.
  • It featured an extensive redesign of the mechanical systems, including a mid-project amendment made when COVID struck that created two floors with a “pandemic mode” that equipped 69 rooms for negative ventilation.

From a design standpoint, the courtyard created as part of the four-story expansion that now connects the new pavilion to the existing hospital is an asset from an aesthetic and functional aspects.

Visitors and patients are often confused and sometimes lost by the myriad of building additions and similar looking corridors. The courtyard, referred to by the client as ‘the Tranquil Garden,’ also offers families and staff an opportunity for respite permitting a moment to step away from the clinical theatre and center one’s thoughts. There are fountains, a shade structure, a children’s play area and multiple seating options intended to appeal to multiple individual's needs.

Much has changed in the years since the conceptualization of the new Mease Countryside campus began. Construction of the six phases has largely concluded, culminating in the official opening of the new Bilheimer Tower in Fall 2021. Within the companies that undertook the $156 million project, Haskell has aligned its healthcare brands, absorbing the Catalyst brand to create the Haskell Healthcare Consulting Division.

And while Haskell’s advisory, design and construction teams continue to provide solutions in whatever way best serves each individual client, they can draw on the Mease experience for both the knowledge and the example of how beneficial a collaborative, holistic development approach can be.

Contact Haskell’s Healthcare Consulting and Design teams to envision and execute the transformation of your health system’s campus.

Haskell delivers $2± 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 2,200 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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