Growing to Meet the Need The medical center added five stories to the Heart Hospital in part to expand its inpatient services, and to improve capacity at its ACS-verified Level I Trauma Center.

One of the main goals of The University of Tennessee Medical Center is to continually improve its facility, providing best-in-class medical operations to serve our growing community's needs. One way we do this is by expanding the services of the six Centers of Excellence – and in 2018, this meant opening a $62-million, 132,664 square-foot expansion to the Heart Hospital.

The addition resulted in five new floors, allowing the medical center to expand its inpatient services and improve capacity in its ACS-verified Level I Trauma Center, the only one of its type in Knoxville.

Using Research to Improve Hospital Design

Designing a facility so that our patients' medical services are all in one place isn't just convenient – it can also improve patient health. This research-based concept was a driving factor behind the recent expansion of the Heart Hospital tower.

"Studies have shown that integrating services improves our patients' outcomes," said Jeanne Wohlford, vice president of the medical center's Heart Lung Vascular Institute. It does this, in part, by maximizing the services' efficiency and effectiveness and improving patient safety. It also improves overall patient satisfaction.

Designing a facility so that our patients' medical services are all in one place isn't just convenient – it can also improve patient health.

The addition, which adjoins the front of The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s main Knoxville campus, was built with input from physicians, nurses, health care specialists and patients. Rooms were designed with soothing colors, adjustable lighting and comfortable sofa beds for family members to spend the night.

The waiting areas at all levels have been improved to reduce stress and accommodate needed breaks. Built-in snack areas make it easy to grab a bite. The cafeteria also delivers meals by request during certain hours, reducing time away from family.

These factors – reducing stress, increasing social interaction and improving access to privacy – have been shown to help patients heal.

Click photos to enlarge. The newly expanded Heart Hospital features the latest in evidence-based design, which creates a soothing, healthful environment.

Expanding Heart Services in East Tennessee

The Heart Hospital tower was built in 2010 to house inpatient Heart Lung Vascular Institute services. Crucial to the success of the design concept is having doctors, nurses and other medical staff dedicated to working exclusively with cardiovascular disease patients by using a multidisciplinary approach for care and treatment.

Therefore, the coordination of care at the Heart Hospital includes a close proximity and ease of access for physicians and staff between the medical center’s cardiovascular intensive care unit, cardiac catheterization center, operating rooms, emergency department and UT LIFESTAR.

With the expansion, four additional units are now housed alongside these other units, increasing access and furthering opportunities for care across departments and teams. These units are:

  • Cardio-thoracic unit
  • Medical interventional cardiology unit
  • Vascular surgery
  • Transplant unit

Using the Latest Tech to Heal Neurocritical Patients

Click photos to enlarge. From the time a patient enters the new Neurocritical Care Unit, until they are discharged, they receive comprehensive, coordinated care from an elite team of physicians and caregivers.

Part of the expansion included adding an entire floor for the Neurocritical Care Unit. The new, sixth-floor space features a one-of-a-kind combination of equipment to improve care for patients with brain and spine injuries.

The equipment includes a bed that is untethered to head walls, allowing staff full 360-degree access to patients. A suspended boom drops medical equipment down on either side of the bed, with a station for doctors on one side and nurses on the other. A patient lift allows staff to lift patients in a variety of ways, improving safety for both patients and team members.

The unit’s high-tech patient rooms feature a cutting-edge combination of equipment designed to provide top-flight care for patients with brain and spine injuries.

A multidisciplinary group worked together to design the patient rooms as well as the entire unit. "Room design was based on what is specifically needed to provide care for neurocritical patients and their families," said J. Russell Langdon, MD, vice president of the Brain & Spine Institute.

The unit also offers the latest design for team members. A central meeting area with a large conference table allows the team to meet and review patient cases, keeping them close to patients, families and team members. There is also a respite room for team members to decompress, which features an environment conducive to meditation, relaxation, or even pumping for breast-feeding mothers.

Integrating Services Vertically and Horizontally

Click photos to enlarge. The unit’s design incorporates a variety of meeting spaces for physicians and staff to consult over their patients’ cases.

"If you look at the way we've structured the heart tower, our services are integrated both horizontally and vertically," said Wohlford. "Horizontal integration means all the services are on one floor; vertically means they're located on different floors in the same building."

This setup makes it easy for physicians and team members to move between the medical center’s cardiovascular intensive care unit, cardiac catheterization center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, operating rooms, emergency department and UT LIFESTAR.

“The Heart Hospital is a modernized facility equipped with the latest technological advances to help us deliver optimal care for our patients,” said Joe Landsman, CEO of the medical center.

"The University of Tennessee Medical Center has a rich history of utilizing evidence-based practices to ensure that we’re delivering the highest quality of care available, and the Heart Hospital represents that commitment to our patients.”


Photography By Dean Baker

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