Projected to open in early 2023, the Women’s and Children’s Pavilion—a joint effort between Dignity Health and Phoenix Children’s—will offer a full complement of services for mothers, babies and children. Currently under construction on the campus of Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, the new facility aims to address the growing demand for pediatric health care in the East Valley. Here, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into bringing a new hospital to life.

Brick by Brick: Construction 

Plans for the building began in 2017. Visit the site today and you’ll see a flurry of activity, from framing and dry wall installation to doors being hung and floors being laid.

“The most important aspect from a construction perspective,” says Russ Korcuska, Senior Vice President for Construction and Special Projects at Phoenix Children’s, “is ensuring the building operates properly so staff and visitors never need to worry that something isn’t going to function as anticipated.”

Since the Pavilion essentially comprises two hospitals, a strong partnership during construction is key.

“The collaborative environment between Dignity Health and Phoenix Children’s is one I’ve not seen with other partnerships,” Korcuska says. “It’s been a very open, very integrated delivery with both parties meeting regularly to ensure all stakeholders’ needs are met.”

Wired for Success: Tech 

Navigating the challenges of two hospitals sharing one space is also something Phoenix Children’s Chief Information Officer Brian Meyer cites as a top priority for the core network infrastructure.

“We’re working with Dignity Health to figure out how to handle things people take for granted, like Wi-Fi,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of collaboration in order to create a shared wireless environment that doesn’t jeopardize patient experience or interfere with the clinical and business operations.”

Also of high priority is the timing of equipment installation. Meyer’s team has mitigated recent supply chain delays by ordering equipment in advance. Once it arrives, the network teams from Phoenix Children’s and Dignity Health will complete what Meyer refers to as “IT plumbing,” a process that takes about three months.

“After the network infrastructure is in place, we’ll configure and deploy equipment, and test all software,” Meyer says.

Smooth Sailing: Patient Care 

Running tests to ensure peak performance isn’t limited to IT and lab equipment. It’s also an essential piece of the puzzle for Rhonda Thompson. She’s the Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Phoenix Children’s, and her role is to determine the scope of services for each department in the Pavilion, staff the care team and create efficient workflow practices.

“Our approach has been to deliver the right care at the right time and in the right place,” Thompson says.

She’s currently recruiting for the Associate Chief Nursing Officer position, one she hopes to fill before May. Come fall, that person will begin to finalize workflow for the new facility, such as how to transfer a child from the emergency department to their room or how and where patients are moved following surgery.

“Those things might seem small,” Thompson says, “but they are critical to how a hospital runs.”

Expert Care: Clinicians 

Dr. Kathleen van Leeuwen, Medical Director, East Valley Services for Phoenix Children’s, has spent recent years identifying leaders in pediatric subspecialties—gastroenterology, cancer, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery and more—to build a clinical team uniquely positioned to serve the East Valley community.

“We started with an inventory of who was in the East Valley already,” Dr. van Leeuwen says. “What we found was that some of our most skilled physicians were already there.”

So Dr. van Leeuwen’s team asked those practitioners what they wanted their services to be, and what offerings they thought they could provide the community. The answer was a resounding “everything.”

As Dr. van Leeuwen explains, certain cancer diagnoses require numerous hospital trips for multiple therapies. For an East Valley patient, that’s a lot of hours traveling between home and Phoenix Children’s main campus in downtown Phoenix. Her philosophy for clinical care at the new Pavilion is: “The more a child needs to be at the hospital, the more we need to build the services for them.”

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