Hospitals and medical centers serve as vital pillars of their communities, providing essential life-saving services and fostering healing. To fulfill their roles effectively, these institutions must have modern, adaptable facilities equipped with state-of-the-art technology, equipment and infrastructure. This often necessitates ambitious upgrades — complex endeavors demanding careful planning, strategic thinking and seamless collaboration.

Recognizing the significance of these initiatives, the Vista Awards, presented annually by the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) of the American Hospital Association, celebrate outstanding achievements in health care construction, renovation and infrastructure. These accolades highlight projects that not only improve medical facilities but also demonstrate remarkable teamwork and innovation in overcoming challenges. Vista Awards spotlight exceptional teams that collaborate to create and sustain safe, high-quality health care environments, exhibit effective communication and utilize data-driven decision-making processes.

This year, ASHE honors two outstanding endeavors: the overhaul of the surgery suite at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus in Falls Church, Va., recipient of the 2024 Vista Award for Renovation; and the building of a new central utility plant at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J., recipient of the 2024 Vista Award for Infrastructure. Winners were not selected in the New Construction category this year.

Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, a 923-bed community hospital serving a wide swath of northern Virginia, sought to modernize its operating suite. This initiative aimed to enhance staff and patient workflow by enlarging operating rooms and reconfiguring the floor plan, incorporating state-of-the-art equipment and updated layouts. Inova enlisted the expertise of HITT Contracting, which executed a comprehensive overhaul of the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to accommodate the new surgical equipment. The project team adopted a phased approach to renovating and standardizing the facility’s 30 operating rooms, ensuring uninterrupted delivery of critical care services throughout the 48-month project without any recordable incidents.

Hackensack Meridian Health’s academic medical center, Hackensack University Medical Center, constructed the new central utility plant to support the growing campus. The project squad — led by RSC Architects, Page Southerland Page, Concord Engineering Group Inc., Stantec, Langan Engineering and Environmental Services Inc., Reuther + Bowen P.C. and Blanchard Turner Joint Venture LLC — implemented comprehensive measures and utilized advanced technology during the planning phase. It aimed to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the hospital’s critical systems throughout the construction process and enhance the design of the plant. 

Within its substation, transformers were installed to accommodate increased loads, while the new generators are capable of supplying power to cover 93% of the anticipated load during prolonged utility disruptions. 

Furthermore, enhancements to the steam system not only decrease operational expenses but also optimize maintenance procedures and efficiencies. Designed to exemplify resilience, the new facility is constructed to withstand unforeseen utility challenges and adverse weather conditions.

Randy Regier, chair of the Vista Awards Task Force that chooses the Vista Award winners, praised both endeavors.

“When a facility enters into the planning for projects like these that are so invasive, there’s a lot of apprehension and anxiety around disruption, noise and infection control. This often turns into a project that will either get shelved or delayed because it seems impossible,” he explains. “But these renovation and infrastructure teams made the impossible possible.” 

Regier adds that the task force was impressed by how these teams turned obstacles into something achievable “while remaining laser-focused on the project itself and without retreating to a safe corner for protection. A team dedicated to project outcomes will, nine times out of 10, rise to that level and attain success. Undoubtedly, that success will come with a few stumbles, but there is no greater reward than the bonds created from persevering through adversity and reaching project goals.”

These recipients of the 2024 Vista Awards were honored during the International Summit and Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design and Construction, held in March in San Diego.

Vista Awards task force

The following health care facilities professionals served on the task force that chose the 2024 American Society for Health Care Engineering Vista Award honorees:

  • Randy Regier (chair), AIA, ACHA, vice president of health care for Jacobs, Irvine, Calif.
  • Jason Piper, administrative director of planning, design and construction at AdventHealth Mid-America Region, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Randy Keiser, senior vice president and national health care director at Turner Construction Company, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Mark Chrisman, PE, health sector executive and principal at Henderson Engineers Inc., Lenexa, Kan.
  • Ravi Raman, PE, president of RAM-TECH Engineers PC, Syracuse, N.Y.