Hackensack Meridian Health staff celebrate a successful move into the new Helena Theurer Pavilion.

Image courtesy of Hackensack University Medical Center

As the Helena Theurer Pavilion on the Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center’s campus neared completion, crucial activity was going on behind the scenes. Leadership and staff immersed themselves in planning, coordinating and rehearsing a seamless move from another hospital on the same campus into the new facility. The team focused on ensuring every aspect of patient care remained uninterrupted. 

The complexities of such an undertaking required comprehensive planning with interdisciplinary leaders across the organization to facilitate moving more than 200 patients plus equipment and supplies.

“The teams planned for enhanced staffing models for the day of the move, and those following, as they adjusted to new spaces and equipment,” says Lucy Pereira-Argenziano, M.D., chief quality officer for the north region at Hackensack Meridian Health. “We performed simulations to help leaders understand how the new building would impact workflow and mitigate potential disruptions and risks.”

Before patients even arrived in the new facility, leadership and staff tested processes by rehearsing the move day itself.

“We simulated the patient units moving to the new tower, which included patient assessment, moving sequence, moving the patients and preparing for emergencies,” Pereira-Argenziano says. “In fact, the team simulated medical emergencies in multiple clinical areas, which allowed us to assess code notification technology, wayfinding and location of emergency equipment.”

A command center was established for the day of the move and staffed by physicians, nurses, information technology experts and team members charged with monitoring capacity and processes.

“A move of this magnitude is a herculean task that requires everyone and everything to come together at the same time,” says Mark D. Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive at Hackensack University Medical Center and president of the north region at Hackensack Meridian Health. “We moved nine nursing units, including two [intensive care units (ICUs)], totaling 225 patients in beds and 24 [operating rooms] in just six days without a single patient safety event.”

The new pavilion represents an elevation of the organization’s already high level of service. The 530,000-square-foot facility includes patient rooms with enhanced privacy, sound and infection prevention considerations. An intraoperative MRI allows surgeries and MRIs to be performed in the same space, and a CT scanner is strategically located to minimize patients’ distance between CT ICU and surgical ICU.

Elements incorporated into the design include extensive natural light and enhanced infection prevention, such as the ability to convert the entire building into a negative-pressure facility with the push of a button, pulling on lessons learned during COVID-19.