Before any concrete was poured, any nails hammered, any drywall erected, the Carolinas HealthCare System — Anson facility was built out of cardboard.
As part of what’s called a “Cardboard LEAN Exercise,” healthcare professionals work in teams to determine the details of what’s needed in their new facility in Anson County, which will replace the current Anson Community Hospital on Morven Road. Full-size rooms, built of cardboard, were erected in a 10,000-square-foot office space in Charlotte, with healthcare workers from Anson, Union, Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties on hand to look at the little things that matter in a workspace design.
“We got clinical people’s help,” explained Tom Washington, who works with facilities management for CHS. “We asked ‘what’s the best layout?’ and then we forced ourselves to get it right.”
The cardboard model scales of X-ray equipment were built to size, to determine if there would be enough clearance for a gurney to slide underneath them, for example. “We built a triage out of cardboard and then we changed it six times,” Washington said. He added that the cardboard cost was nominal, while if the room had been constructed out of steel and concrete in the wrong way, it would’ve cost $100,000 to repair.
This LEAN approach has led to a new kind of facility for CHS, Washington said. The Anson facility will be the first of its kind in the state, with a primary care area embedded in the same building with an Emergency Department, Imaging, Surgery and inpatient beds.
“The idea was to reduce the number of steps for doctors and nurses,” Washington said. “If we reduce the number of steps, we get the nurse face-to-face with the patients more often.”
Part of that face-to-face contact between nurses and patients includes windows in each patient room, which will allow nurses to monitor patients without disturbing them. Blinds will be able to be drawn over the windows for privacy. Each patient room also features floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for more natural light.
A large community room will be situated near the front entrance, and could be used for programs, meetings or health classes. “The room is at the front intentionally,” Washington said. “It’s a room for the whole community to use.”
The front entrance is another place in which this facility will differ from most other hospitals. While many other hospitals have multiple entrances, which can lead to confused patients and visitors, the Anson hospital will have one main entrance for patients and visitors. At this main entrance there will be a reception desk, staffed 24/7, where patients will be assessed and sent either to the Emergency Department, primary care physician offices or outpatient surgery. After normal doctor’s office hours, patients will most likely be sent directly to the ED.
“The whole idea behind that is to reduce visits to the ED,” said Marcey Stone, director of market communication for CHS. “We want people to get the right care in the right place.”
“We haven’t done this before,” Washington admitted, “but we’re hopeful people will get the right care faster.”
The single-level Carolinas HealthCare System — Anson facility will include 15 inpatient rooms, 24-hour emergency services, surgery, digital imaging, pharmacy and laboratory, better access to primary care, and expanded emphasis on wellness and disease management.
Construction on the facility began in May, with general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie of Birmingham, Ala., and architect Design Strategies of Charlotte. Completion is expected in summer 2014. The hospital is located on U.S. 74 on 10 acres of land. Its address will be 2261 U.S. 74 West, Wadesboro.