It's part of an effort to make the hospital experience more patient-focused, Hopkins officials said Thursday on the first tour given to the news media since construction began five years ago on the 1.6 million-square-foot building, which will replace aging facilities on the East Baltimore medical campus.
"This is not something that's done casually," Ronald R. Peterson, executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said about the massive facility, which will open during a time when payments from Medicaid, Medicare and other programs are threatened. "But even at a place like Hopkins that has the reputation we enjoy, those in charge came to realize that we were well behind and needed to catch up."
Health care is a dominant industry in Maryland, responsible for about 11 percent of all jobs in the state, and it is growing, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Hopkins joins Mercy Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical Center and other area hospitals in replacing buildings and adding the most modern equipment and amenities to lure patients, keep doctors and expand business.
Hopkins' new hospital, a pair of 12-story towers for adults and children, is scheduled to open April 29 and will replace buildings constructed in the 1930s and 1950s. Next door to the existing main hospital facing Wolfe Street, the new hospital, facing Orleans Street, will offer 560 private rooms, 33 operating rooms and new adult and children's emergency rooms.
Peterson said the decision was made to replace the older buildings nearly a dozen years ago, well before the hint of a recession that likely would have given the board of trustees pause.
The federal budget deficit means cuts are possible to Medicare and Medicaid, which make up close to half of the revenue from patients to Hopkins and many other hospitals. Hopkins also serves some Department of Defense patients.
That can have an effect on repayment of bonds used to pay for construction, Peterson said. Hopkins borrowed $400 million for the new facility and raised about $325 million from private philanthropic sources, including Saudi royalty and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It also received $100 million from the state.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the hospital, medical school and affiliated hospitals and health care facilities, has an overall budget of $6.5 billion and 30,000 workers and is the largest employer in Baltimore. About 700 new jobs will be created in the new complex.
Throughout the tour Thursday, doctors pointed to innovations that they said would improve safety and efficiency. Dr. Kenneth Cohen, clinical director of pediatric oncology, said he didn't know if it all will help Hopkins cure more cancer, but it will "make the experience a little less stressful."
Peterson said the new facilities are needed to accommodate equipment not envisioned decades ago. They also offer patient rooms that control infection better and allow for privacy.
That is important to parents such as Robert Hicks Jr. of Owings Mills, whose infant son was treated at Hopkins five years ago for potentially deadly fluid in his lungs. Hicks said he didn't want to leave the room to get food, sleep or shower, so when officials asked what they could include in the new hospital, he told them.
"This isn't about me or about Robert III, it's about the next family and the next Robert," he said. "You shouldn't have [to worry] about leaving your child to go get something to eat. You need to be there to listen to them breathe, hear them cry."
And while the patient rooms will include sofa beds, on-demand dining and showers, as well as laundry and kitchenettes nearby, the facility will not include a dedicated "over-the-top" wing for VIPs, said Hopkins' Peterson.
Other prestigious hospitals around the country have created a lucrative business by serving patients who can afford to pay extra for luxurious, hotel-like accommodations — new mother Beyonce, for example. Hopkins will continue to serve VIP patients in its Marburg Pavilion, which offers extras such as two-room suites, fine furniture and baths, entertainment centers, expanded dining menus and overnight accommodations for family.
Other area hospitals recently finished their own upgrades to offer patients and personnel better and safer experiences, including Mercy. It recently opened its $400 million, 20-story downtown hospital that includes private rooms with flat-screen televisions and sleeper-sofas for family, state-of-the-art operating rooms, public gardens and a chapel.
The University of Maryland Medical Center plans a nine-level addition to its Shock Trauma Center to accommodate higher demand for trauma, emergency and critical care services. The current building dates to 1989 and was intended to accommodate 3,500 patients annually, but now serves more than 8,000.
Sinai Hospital is building a $29.5 million addition to its children's hospital because it also needs more space. Upgrades and expansions also are planned, under way or completed at St. Agnes Hospital, Franklin Square, Northwest Hospital and Maryland General.