Renewing St. Joe's
"We don't pay money for [green building] certification--we have to make sure our money is used for patient care," says Tocco. "But we exceed all expectations of the certifying bodies" in terms of efficiency.
The earth-toned patient rooms could pass for a very nice motel, but they're much tougher than they look. In the future "we may be working with less staff," Tocco notes, so the designers wanted to be sure the new building would look as good in ten years as it does when it opens.
Every room is "universal," wired and plumbed so it can easily be reconfigured for the needs of different patients. Rooms can even be made into intensive care units on a moment's notice. Tocco say the second floor of the North Tower will become the new surgical ICU. The third floor "will be all mother and child," he says, with pediatrics linking to the adjacent family birthing center and a sunny "meditation garden" designed to resemble a northern Michigan scene, with winding paths, water, and faux birch trees. Upper floors will house medical intensive care, neurosurgery, and specialty care.
What patients notice most in hospitals, though, is their own experience. Designed with extensive input from St. Joe's "alumni"--former patients--the new rooms are a third larger than the old ones, with clearly defined zones for the patient, visitors, and medical staff. Tocco says a prototype room went through dozens of changes as the "patient experience team" tweaked such details as where to put the clock and giving visitors their own TV speaker and volume control.