Sometimes a hospital isn’t just a hospital. With their wealth of additional services beyond healthcare, one could reasonably argue that newer medical facilities are public places. In addition to serving the community’s medical needs, they serve social and civic needs. Butler (Pa.) Health System’s (BHS) Butler Memorial Hospital is a prime example of such a facility.

The health system’s flagship hospital has been a community mainstay since 1898, but to keep up with changing times, BHS has established an ongoing renovation program led by MBM Contracting.

To continue to meet the healthcare needs of the region, a new patient tower was completed in summer 2010. Turner Construction Co. built the seven-story, 210,000-square-foot addition to the existing 350,000-square-foot hospital. The finished addition is an example of how today’s hospitals are much more than patient rooms and operating areas.

The construction timeline for the project from the beginning of the steel work to turnover to the owner was 14 months. The design/construction process was performed using building information modeling (BIM) software that enables users to see all aspects of construction—HVAC, mechanical, electrical and plumbing with bricks and mortar—in a real-time simulation.

“The BIM allowed us to visualize the project and coordinate all systems prior to construction. We eliminated over 90 percent of the typical installation conflicts, allowing us to meet this highly aggressive schedule,” said Kurt Johnson, Turner Construction’s project manager.

It made sense to call on Fuellgraf Electric Co., Butler, Pa.

“Fuellgraf Electric has been working with BHS for more than 35 years, so it was a natural fit for the two entities to work together on this project as well,” said Chud Fuellgraf, president.

Public areas co-mingle with medical community
BHS has orchestrated taking a traditional medical facility and using it as a public venue with great success. The patient tower’s architecture and systems are impressive. The contractors on this project faced challenges to bring such a multipurpose building to life. Even the lobby is not an ordinary lobby. At nearly 43,000 square feet (almost an acre), it includes a retail pharmacy and medical equipment company, a state-of-the-art simulation lab, a nondenominational chapel, a coffee shop and a public meeting space.

Farther up the patient tower, a 152-seat lecture auditorium, along with meeting space for physicians and administrators, is used for extensive multimedia presentations and recently has held such high-profile events as continuing medical education symposiums and public health forums. BHS has formed a partnership with local education institutions Slippery Rock University and Butler County Community College to offer community and medical education and training sessions in this venue.

“Our objective is to provide physicians and support staff with the best possible facilities to care for their patients,” said Kevin Stansbury, vice president, business development and corporate image at BHS. “At the same time, we strive to provide patients, families and our community with places that are comfortable, calming and oriented towards wellness and continuing education.“

For example, BHS’s East Campus is designed with elements of nature, such as bamboo and a waterfall feature. This diagnostic testing and physician office site provides a relaxed environment for patients and their families.

Integrated and extensive systems throughout
BHS has implemented initiatives in safety, infection reductions and creating a quieter, more healing environment for its patients. The patient tower and existing hospital campus use new technology and integrated systems in areas from patient monitoring to real-time location services and through training and teaching applications. Fuellgraf Electric was instrumental in implementing this technology.

A nurse call system was initiated where patient concerns are directed to a centralized location. There, a computer screen displays information on the patient’s condition, location and associated caregivers. Nursing staffers wear a hands-free communication device that can send and receive information. Doctors can be paged, or information can be dictated through this device.

BHS’ Simulation Lab uses both low- and high-fidelity mannequins and offers training simulations in real-life scenarios. The latest addition to the lab is a lifelike mannequin complete with breath sounds, heart rate and bodily fluids that can be programmed for medical emergencies, such as a heart attack or drug reactions. The mannequin reacts in real time to treatment. Following the exercise, the staff views a video of the training to identify areas of improvement. For this simulation lab to function, it needs to access and use the electrical and data systems.

The eight new operating suites in the patient tower are integrated into BHS’s electronic medical record system. Surgeons and operating room staff can monitor vital signs; access lab, imaging results and other information from the medical record; conference in other physicians for consulting and training purposes; and even customize music played through speakers or mobile devices.

“The [operating] rooms can almost be mistaken for a multimedia event. Multiple screens allow physicians to view all aspects of the patient’s activities, from X-rays to ultrasounds, at the same time. They are so integrated that one can even plug their iPod in to get the right music into the room,” said Jack Huth, project executive for Fuellgraf Electric.

The patient tracking system is another amenity that BHS offers. According to Peter Schogel, director, program management for BHS, the system is an integration of two providers: Ekahau for the primary hardware and Intelligent InSites for the software.

“The system is used to track a patient in the [operating room] from start to finish. Families are provided with a badge that allows them to monitor the exact location of the patient as they move from pre- to post-operation areas. Messages are sent to the badge on the status of the patient. Family members and medical staff have immediate real-time information on a patient’s activities,” Schogel said.

A key component for patient tracking systems is integration because they need to be able to access various data points to work comprehensively.

The data communications system ties everything together. Fuellgraf Electric worked with Panduit, provided through Cody Associates, for the backbone system. This specific solution enabled Fuellgraf Electric to optimize the physical infrastructure through simplification, agility and operational efficiency by providing the capabilities to connect, manage and automate the communications, computing, power, control and security systems for a smarter, unified business foundation.

“More than 1 million feet of copper and fiber cable was installed throughout the facility. The robust data backbone system is highly relevant as just about every other system uses it for individual operations as well as the integration of the multiple systems throughout the facility,” said Greg Crawford, Fuellgraf Electric’s general superintendent.

In the end, the project was a success in systems installation, integration and design, and it also gave the surrounding community much more than just a hospital. BHS and Fuellgraf Electric have seen past the traditional definition of healthcare and raised the bar for patient care.


STONG, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at jennifer.stong@comcast.net.