Five years ago this fall, Chester County Hospital (CCH) became a proud member of Penn Medicine — and became the health system’s fourth hospital, joining the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), Penn Presbyterian Medical Center(PPMC), and Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH). It marked the start of an exciting wave of strategic expansion across the region, followed by Lancaster General Health and Princeton Healthcare, growing the health system’s footprint across two states.

When CCH joined Penn Medicine, its leaders aimed to build upon the qualities that make CCH strong, while evolving to meet the changing needs and expectations of its community with new technologies and clinical programs that Penn could bring as a major urban academic health center. That vision has translated over these five years into CCH’s regional growth, opening a new Penn Medicine Southern Chester County facility offering radiology, lab and physical therapy services to the West Grove and Jennersville areas, as well as providing primary and specialty care to those communities.

During that time, CCH has also reached milestones in both nursing quality and information technology, achieving Magnet® Nursing designation and implementing myChart/myPennMedicine for seamless patient care throughout the health system. CCH also brought “Red Coat” ambassadors on board to help patients navigate the hospital, an especially important service now — as CCH is in the midst of a major expansion project, the largest in the hospital’s history.

In five short years, CCH has accomplished a great deal already. But, noted Michael Duncan, president and CEO of CCH, even as the hospital grows and advances, the cornerstone of its work remains constant: “Our strategic mission has always been to make CCH a destination for world-class health care for the residents of Chester County.”

Blocks helped staff visualize the flow of patients and families.

To ensure that patients who come to CCH for their care will receive a world-class experience, the hospital’s major expansion project, begun just over a year ago, has included consensus building among many stakeholders. “Chester County Hospital adopted an open-door policy for planning,” said Louis A. Meilink, Jr, a principal at the planning, design, and architecture firm Ballinger. “With the help of Ballinger architects, the hospital engaged multiple stakeholders with innovative design techniques throughout the process.”

Several simulation exercises helped plan work flow and how the continuum of care before, during and after a procedure or hospitalization will play out in the new space. The simulations modeled heavy case load days, using actual times for the stages of patient progression, starting in pre-op, then moving to procedure, post-anesthesia care, recovery and discharge. These simulations used both 3D models and full-scale mock-ups to ensure that the design of the rooms was optimized for the experience of both the medical provider and patient, and the architects incorporated concepts from evidence-based design research, Meilink noted.

“The simulation gives all of us a chance to see how patients and visitors will flow through the new building,” said Kathy Stocker, director of volunteer services at CCH and one of the participants in the simulation series. “It helps me to know how many volunteers I will need, what their hours should be and what duties they will perform.”

CCH Expansion: Fast Facts

Completion date: 2020

Added space: 250,000 square feet

Renovated space: 26,000 square feet

99 inpatient rooms

15 modern operating rooms

13 Emergency Department rooms

3 state-of-the-art labs for procedures

New community pharmacy

Tranquil public spaces

New main entrance

The simulation used blocks and large-scale print outs of the floor plans for each area. The blocks represented patients, visitors, staff, and providers. These visual tools helped the planning team envision the volume of future cases and room turnover. The exercise also inspired thoughtful discussions about roles and responsibilities of nursing staff and the most efficient movement of patients and their loved ones. Small, department-based simulations and multidisciplinary meetings helped to cover all bases.

After this sophisticated planning, not unlike the planning for the new inpatient Pavilion at HUP, CCH’s leaders feel confident that this new space will resonate with the needs of patients, families and medical providers and will support the values of a community-based hospital. The expansion will allow more space for the most sophisticated medical procedures, provide more personalized care for inpatients, increase the patient care space in the Emergency Department and allow local residents and the surrounding communities to stay close to home to receive the highest quality of care. When the expansion is completed, Chester County Hospital will be the largest inpatient facility in Chester County.

“We strive to provide each patient and their family with an outstanding experience, improve the health of our community and attract and retain the best and the brightest health care professionals,” Duncan said. “Chester County will benefit from having urban innovation in the suburbs.”

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