Hope has a new home

The hospital of the future will see its first patients in just a few days while a 25-year vision for expansion of health care at UF&Shands is revealed.

The Shands Cancer Hospital at the University of Florida, located at the new Shands at UF South Campus, across the street from the existing medical center on Southwest Archer Road, shines inside and out. The variety of materials that make up the new medical tower are reflective of the number of specialties represented by health-care professionals collaborating to optimize patient treatment and care.

“This is the creation of a home where expertise and care come together,” said Dr. Michael Good, interim dean of the UF College of Medicine.

Last week, Shands and UF employees, members of the media and residents from Alachua County and the surrounding area received their first look at the 500,000-square-foot, 192-bed Shands Cancer Hospital and Shands Critical Care Center at UF. Events included an employee open house, a press conference and media tours, a public open house and health fair. The weeklong introduction culminated Sunday afternoon with a candlelight celebration and blessing of the Hands of Hope to honor the caregivers who serve their patients.

The medical tower, designed to meet the area’s growing need for cancer services, will serve a variety of inpatients, including those receiving diagnostic and therapeutic oncology care. It will also house the Shands Critical Care Center for emergency and trauma services.

“The new hospital reflects a high-tech, high-touch approach to care, which will be carried out by interdisciplinary healing teams focused on treatment of the whole patient: body, mind and spirit,” Good said.

The facility officially opens on Nov. 1.

Twelve high-tech operating rooms are designed to accommodate anticipated evolutions in robotics and 3-D imaging; as are the surgical intensive and intermediate care units, a bone marrow transplant unit, outpatient clinic and stem cell lab.

A full-spectrum radiology department features a $2.5-million diagnostic tool, the Aquillion ONE 320-detector row CT scanner. This scanner, the second acquired by Shands HealthCare, helps physicians diagnose cancer, and it can detect stroke and heart disease in minutes. Shands at UF is one of only a few health centers in the nation to have this technology.

The design team of the $388-million building, led by Brad Pollitt, Shands HealthCare vice president for facilities, is stingy on power use and friendly to the environment.

With Leadership in Environmental Education and Design, or LEED, certification, the Cancer Hospital increases operational efficiencies while its construction makes it an environmentally sustainable building. Shands and Gainesville Regional Utilities partnered to establish the GRU South Energy Center to provide 100 percent of the hospital’s energy needs. The onsite power plant will ensure uninterrupted power, independent of the city’s energy grid. The overall energy savings is estimated at 27 million kilowatts per year, enough to power about 3,000 homes.

Other sustainability features include the use of reclaimed water, insulated glass windows, white heat-reflecting rooftops, special parking for hybrid cars and plenty of bike racks and showers to encourage employees to bike to work.

Input and donations from hospital staff were key to the design of the new building. Not only are nursing and medical staff responsible for $1.5 million dollars in funding for the project, but many features of the building reflect their insight: nurse stations that improve the line of sight to patients, and patient rooms with remotes that allow patients to adjust the lighting and window shades. Lighting is positioned in hallways so patients aren’t subjected to blinding glare when they are transported on gurneys.

With one in seven adults treated at Shands at UF for cancer-related ailments, the theme of hope is gently carried out through the choice of artwork on the walls and the views of the indigenous flowers and foliage in the Garden of Hope. The calming and positive healing environment is created by the enveloping natural light beaming from oversized windows, the water feature in the Sanctuary of Silence meditation room and the warmth of the Sanctuary of Peace chapel.

The hospital spans five of the 27-acre south campus, which is prime for development, said Timothy Goldfarb, CEO of Shands HealthCare.

“This is a glimpse of the future of our south campus,” he said. “It’s the first phase of an expanded medical center.”

Goldfarb said the 25-year vision for expansion includes an increase in capacity of the current tower to 1,200 beds and replacing Shands at UF with a cluster of buildings and towers that allows for a grouping of specialty care.

“The expansion allows UF to maintain its leadership as Florida’s flagship hospital,” said Dr. David Guzick, senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System.

“The construction of the hospital is a shift in the center of gravity for campus.”

Photos by Sarah Kiewel