In the health world, there are few places more dependent on space than the emergency room. At Virginia Commonwealth University Health in Richmond, Virginia, health care providers discovered they needed a revamp and expansion of their ER. Encompassing more than 67,000 square feet of space, Barton Malow—along with architects HKS—took on the mission of giving this facility new and innovative ways to care.
Knocking Down Barriers
Completed in four major phases throughout five years, the VCU Health ER renovation required precise planning and execution. The largest challenge centered on ensuring the ER team—which operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—saw minimal impact and distraction from construction. Moreover, with the need to keep at minimum 65 exam rooms available at all times, Barton Malow and partners had their work cut out for them. How did the team bypass this challenge? The preplanning phase was crucial, especially when it came to coordinating with VCU Health officials. Establishing a working rapport with the client’s leaders set the stage for a successful project. Through this communication project leaders on both sides of the table were able to develop a phased plan that met all the requirements for keeping near-normal hospital operations. This included an unexpected redirection in priorities that the teams were able to navigate through in order to get the job done.
Expanding Care for Patients
Together, Barton Malow and its partners completed game-changing renovations for the facility. New air handling units were added to meet code changes, electrical and telecom rooms were added to ensure exam rooms were all connected to the latest technological requirements, and a pandemic exhaust system was added to allow the ER department go to negative pressure in the event of a mass infection—hopefully, that last bit won’t be needed. Barton Malow’s work at VCU Health showcases the company’s experience and expertise in developing modern spaces for health professionals. But more importantly it also reflects a commitment to giving communities and the people who call them home a place where care can manifest itself more directly. Finally, as testament to Barton Malow’s work, the project was awarded the 2017 Vista Award by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) of the American Hospital Association (AHA), which recognizes teams that have worked together to develop and maintain safe, quality health care environments.