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New ETMC Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Texas – Grazing cattle in rolling pastureland. Mature oaks and other hardwoods with dramatic canopies. A stock pond.

Scenes of pastoral calm are often recalled by the design and hospital administrative team leaders involved in creating the new ETMC Pittsburg. The idyllic impressions taken from their first visits to the hospital’s site on Hwy. 271, located in the countryside just north of Pittsburg, were instrumental in creating the nurturing—yet very efficient—design for the new hospital.

“Mr. Ellis is very supportive of us finding out what is unique about each particular community that ETMC serves, and putting that into the design, because a hospital is a cornerstone of its community,” explained project architect Dan Polachek, AIA, CID of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson Architects, Engineers and Planners. “Our vision for the hospital was for the patients to feel that ‘You’re going to be cared for and nurtured.’"

“At ETMC, we strongly believe that the environment of a hospital adds to the physical and emotional healing of our patients and their loved ones,” noted Elmer G. Ellis, president/CEO of the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System. “The beautiful campus of ETMC Pittsburg exemplifies how nature and modern technology can go hand-in-hand in meeting today’s healthcare needs. This is truly a dream realized for all of us at ETMC and the entire Pittsburg community.”

“We took a year and a half to buy this property,” ETMC Pittsburg Administrator Perry Henderson said. The land was purchased in 2002, and planning for the new hospital began soon afterward. Construction began in late 2007. “We’re a mile out of the city limits. It is in the country and has a pastoral view.”

The site is a natural wetlands where the flow of rainwater drains into both the original pond Grand Lobbyand a newly created one at the rear of the property. Keeping the pastoral setting as untouched as possible was a driving goal in the hospital’s planning, and the building was sited to provide the least disturbance to the land.

The location of existing trees and water drove the decision of the building site, as well as the location of the Patty and “Bo” Pilgrim fitness center. The beauty of the natural elements surrounding the hospital was brought indoors, as well, with ample daylight, flowing fountains, and numerous plants and trees.

Guests are beckoned through the hospital’s main entrance by sunlight streaming through the dozens of windows in the grand lobby. The light is vital, not only to patient and visitor well-being, but to the ficus trees and hundreds of plants interspersed around the flowing water and fountains that surround the lobby’s waiting areas and cafeteria seating. “We felt it was important, given the beauty of the natural elements outside, that the inside be an extension of the pastoral setting,” Henderson said. “The natural elements promote a sense of calm and well-being, which is vital to healing and good health.”

Patients and guests alike are immediately greeted by the hospitable volunteers at the hospital’s reception desk, located immediately inside the entrance. To the north of the grand lobby are 16 physicians’ clinics and comfortable waiting areas, hospital administrative offices, pharmacy, medical records, and the hospital’s Memorial Chapel. South of the grand lobby are the hospital’s emergency department, laboratory, imaging services, dietary department, surgery, plant services and an outdoor docking pad for mobile technology units, as needed.

The back of the hospital, which faces east, contains a 25-bed nursing unit of all private rooms and baths.

North Side Highlights
The 16 clinic spaces – comprising about 20,000 square feet -- have been filled by 16 providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants, who will use 48 exam rooms to provide primary and specialized care to all ages. “Having everything under one roof is an efficient setting that we don’t often have as hospital administrators,” Henderson said. “Let’s say that a doctor orders a radiology test during a patient’s exam in his office. The patient then walks across the grand lobby to our hospital radiology department, undergoes the test, and walks back to the doctor’s office.

By the time the patient arrives back at the doctor’s office, the doctor will have the test results in hand to share with the patient.”

Scenarios such as this are possible not only because these services are located under one roof, but also because the hospital has been outfitted with a very high-tech complement of systems, including wireless and wired communications to enhance PACS (an electronic storage and transmission system for radiology imaging) and electronic medical record Pittsburg Exam Room(EMR) capabilities.

ETMC Pittsburg anticipates transitioning to an EMR system in late January 2010, with the ETMC First Physicians clinics in Pittsburg following in the spring.

South of the grand lobby
A host of medical services are located south of the grand lobby. Thousands of patients each year are expected to seek care at the hospital’s emergency department, whether arriving by car or by ambulance. There, they can feel confident that their care is in the hands of the highly-skilled staff of this Level 4 trauma center.

The emergency department offers six exam rooms, two observation rooms, a two-bay major treatment room and related support services. It is served by Camp County EMS ambulances and the ETMC Air 1 helicopter. Patient admission and registration areas are also located conveniently off the grand lobby. Patients will report to these areas as they arrive for lab, radiology or other procedures. The ETMC Pittsburg laboratory will offer a variety of specialized diagnostic testing, including chemistry, microbiology and hematology services.

The imaging department provides an array of sophisticated technology rarely found in rural hospitals. Among the technology is a high-field, open MRI; a second-generation 64-slice CT, upgradeable to a 128-slice unit when needed; nuclear medicine; fluoroscopy; ultrasound and X-ray.

The hospital’s dietary department befits the high level of healthcare services at the hospital, offering a 60-seat cafeteria dining room, as well as meal service tailored to each patient’s physician-ordered diet. The kitchen provides a 96-square-foot walk-in freezer space and 64-square-foot refrigerator area, all-new commercial stoves, ovens and other equipment needed to produce an anticipated 120-140 meals each day. A chef has been hired to supervise food preparation at the facility. The hospital’s surgery department offers two spacious surgery suites—each measuring 552 square feet.

ETMC Pittsburg HallwayThey are stocked with equipment necessary for a variety of general surgical procedures, as well as orthopedic, gynecological and ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeries. The surgery department also features a comfortable and private area for patients undergoing surgery to consult with their caregivers and complete pre-surgery preparations. A GI lab and procedures room is located in the surgery department, as is a four-room pre-operative area and a four-room post-anesthesia recovery unit.

East of the grand lobby
Private patient rooms are the highlight of the east side of the new ETMC Pittsburg.

Four monitored care beds—used for more seriously ill patients requiring a higher level of care—and 21 private patient rooms extend along a curved wall of windows across the back of the hospital, overlooking the ponds and a hay meadow. Each patient room measures 304 square feet, and offers its own private bath. Patient care will benefit from all new Hill-Rom Care Assist ES beds, which feature television controls, built-in speakers and direct nurse call buttons in the bedrails for patient convenience. The beds also offer built-in scales to conveniently and safely weigh patients, as well as bed exit alarms to enhance patient safety. For greater patient comfort, the beds feature Tempur-Pedic mattresses that conform to the body to decrease pressure points on the skin. A SpaceLab patient monitoring system in each room will continuously monitor the patient’s blood pressure, pulse, heart rhythm and oxygen saturation. Cardiac telemetry capacity in the new ETMC Pittsburg will increase to 18 beds, as compared to 12 beds at the previous hospital.

“We will have the capability to monitor the patients’ telemetry readings continuously while they travel to other departments within the hospital for diagnostic testing,” explained Casey Mayben, RN, ETMC Pittsburg chief nursing officer. “The nursing staff is very excited about the high level of care we can offer our patients in the new hospital.”

The nurses’ station is located central to the patient rooms, with a smaller, additional station located close to the four monitored care beds. One special feature, which Polachek noted is very unique in the hospital environment, are the verandas that are located just outside each patient room, allowing patients and family members to spend a few minutes enjoying fresh air and sunshine.

For safety’s sake, each door is alarmed and the doors are kept locked until a patient or family member requests to go outside. “The addition of the verandas is indicative of ETMC’s dedication to enhancing the patient care environment,” Polachek said. “Touches like these show the desire to give families the spaces for the human dignity they deserve during their stays. “This building will be promoted as a model critical access facility,” he said. Critical access hospitals, such as ETMC Pittsburg, are designated as such by Medicare after meeting several factors, including being located in a highly rural area. “This will be looked at as an example of what rural healthcare can be.”

The Patty and “Bo” Pilgrim fitness center
The Patty and “Bo” Pilgrim fitness center is an integral part of the hospital campus. Situated separately from the hospital building, on the northern side of the property, this fitness center measures approximately 10,000 square feet. The new ETMC Olympic Center provides outpatient physical therapy and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation for those recovering from illness, as well as an array of health-enhancing fitness services to help members improve the quality of their lives. A saltwater rehabilitation pool, all-new cardiovascular and strength-training equipment and a dedicated aerobics room are features of this center. Amenities such as men’s and women’s locker rooms and shower facilities are also be provided.

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The Construction Team
The new ETMC Pittsburg was designed and built by a team of construction professionals, including:

  • Hammel, Green and Abrahamson Architects, Engineers and Planners, a Minneapolis, Minn. –based architecture and structural engineering firm. HGA has a 13-year relationship with ETMC.
  • fitzpatrick.butler architects, a Tyler-based architecture firm, which provided construction administration services for ETMC Pittsburg.
  • Nori Umemoto Design Associates, a San Jose, Calif. – based firm, specializing in medical planning, interior design, furnishings and artwork.
  • Adams Engineering of Tyler, providing civil engineering services
  • Vaughn Construction of College Station and Houston, providing construction contracting services
  • ETMC Construction Services, providing internal management of all aspects of the project

In addition, a majority of the subcontractors for the project were local and regional firms. East Texas subcontractors were used whenever possible. Ellis added that it is unusual and highly significant to have the opportunity to build a new hospital from the ground up.

“In the 58-year history of the ETMC Regional Healthcare System, this is only the third time we have opened an entirely new acute-care hospital, with ETMC Tyler and ETMC Athens being the other two,” he explained. “The new ETMC Pittsburg will stand for generations as a cornerstone of the community—serving as a true lifeline, and contributing to the overall physical and economic health of Camp County. We are grateful to everyone who has played a role in this historic project.”

ETMC Pittsburg is part of East Texas’ largest healthcare system, the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System. ETMC is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in communities throughout East Texas.