Do Buildings Matter?

In mid-October 2010, I had the wonderful privilege and pride-inducing opportunity to give tours of our marvelous new hospital campus in Minneapolis (I look forward to doing this next year in St. Paul) to leaders from 25 other children’s hospitals, as well as the CMOs and VPMAs of local hospitals and corporations. I continue to do so with many private practice groups.

It was gratifying for someone like me who has worked on both Children’s hospital campuses since 1976, and seen the phenomenal transformation of the buildings and facilities to 21st century levels.

We now have state-of-the-art, 400-plus square-foot private patient rooms, operating rooms that look like they may even be 22nd century, a spacious emergency department designed with patient flow in mind, a cardiovascular unit with operating rooms and intensive care and med/surg beds on the same floor so a patient never has to leave that floor before going home, as well as a beautiful family resource center, sibling playroom, in-hospital Ronald McDonald House, and an Arts and Healing environment second to none.

I also know that our local friends and competitors have beautiful new facilities as well. So the thought crossed my mind; do buildings matter?

My sense is that while nice to have and important from a family standpoint, it will not be buildings only that give one institution an edge over another.
It is the same factors that have always led clinicians to send patients to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, or others. It is the basic fundamentals of what I consider to be the three A’s:

  • Availability
  • Affability
  • Ability

    Which system will be most responsive and available to referring physicians? Which system will make it easier to have access into it? Which system’s clinicians and advanced practice nurses will be most affable? Who will thank their referring physicians the most? Who will do it with a positive attitude? Who will do it with a “can do” attitude more than the others, and also important, who can do it with the greatest ability; abilities proven with outcomes. Referring physicians will continue to make decisions based upon these factors.

    There is also a value equation. Which organization gives the best quality (both clinical and functional) with the best service at the most reasonable cost, showing that they are the best steward of resources? Which organization will make it the easiest for the outside world to utilize? That’s who will continue to thrive.

    I believe Children’s will remain a dominant player in the market based upon these factors. We will continue to be the hospital where attending level staff are in-house 24/7, whether it is intensivists, neonatologists, ED physicians, or hospitalists, here to teach residents, but not depend on residents to care for patients. We will be the institution whose values of true family-centered care matches those of pediatricians and family practitioners in the communities we serve.

    Each morning I look upon our beautiful new facility and take great joy in how open and beautiful our new facilities are, and I remind myself of the lessons our parents taught us – it is not what is on the outside that counts, it’s what is on the inside that makes a difference.

    It is my desire and hope that the clinicians in the community, the metro area, and the state, know that the place to send their children when they need it is Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Not because of what’s on the outside, but rather what’s on our inside.

    Phil Kibort, MD, is Children’s vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer. Read his bio here.

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