Award-Winning Patient First Construction: Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center Expansion named among 2023’s Best of the Best by ENR

Showcasing Kitchell’s expertise in managing intricate projects within active healthcare settings, Kitchell, in partnership with Broaddus & Associates and Curry Boudreaux Architects, has been honored with the prestigious ENR Best of the Best Award for Interior/Tenant Improvement. This national recognition celebrates our outstanding work on the Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center Electrophysiology Lab & Surgical Services Expansion project, which was distinguished by ENR at a ceremony in New York this week as one of the top 20 projects nationwide in 2023.

From left: Don Marshall, Broaddus & Associates; Craig Newitt, Kitchell; Steve Curry, Curry Boudreaux Architects; Donna Stojkovic, Curry Boudreaux Architects; Chris Kirch, Kitchell.

The surgical suite renovation and expansion included a 20,000-sq-ft buildout of shell space to accommodate three electrophysiology cardiac catheterization labs, three general operating rooms, a hybrid operating room, a pre-operation/recovery space and eight post-anesthesia care unit bays. Moreover, the surgical suite sits in the middle of the Texas Medical Center, the world’s largest medical complex, and the center’s existing operating rooms remained in use during construction, which challenged contractors to complete the expansion with surgical precision.

“This is the most technically challenging project that I have ever been a part of. Many firsts with this one, and it was delivered early!” – Michael Hatton, Vice President Facilities Engineering and Construction, Memorial Hermann Health System

In the midst of an active hospital floor, the expansion project prioritized the safety of workers, patients, and staff above all. Our team rigorously followed Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) protocols from the outset, crafting meticulous infection control plans before construction began. These strategies were developed in close collaboration with MHHS Staff to cover all potential scenarios, ensuring a seamless integration of construction activities with ongoing hospital operations.

A key precaution involved our team and trade partners donning protective gowns to traverse sterile areas for access to the construction site, a procedure critical to maintaining the integrity of the hospital environment. Any deviation from this process risked work stoppages or operational disruptions.

Understanding the building’s intricacies was crucial for the interior buildout. Early on, we employed laser scanning to accurately map the space, a strategy that informed structural adjustments and the integration of new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems without disturbing existing operations. This not only enhanced the accuracy of our construction documents, leading to lower contractor bids and fewer field clashes but also facilitated the design team’s access to precise connection points data.

A significant challenge arose when it became necessary to access underfloor areas on Level 3 by removing ceilings in newly renovated operating rooms on Level 2. Leveraging our detailed laser scans, Kitchell swiftly planned and executed these adjustments, allowing the newly renovated operating rooms to become operational with minimal delay. This proactive approach significantly accelerated the project timeline, enabling the early activation of critical hospital areas.

Kitchell’s Patient-First Construction Approach
Kitchell’s construction philosophy within operational hospitals is guided by a deep commitment to prioritizing the well-being of patients, ensuring their comfort, privacy, and uninterrupted communication. We embody a “Patient First” mindset in every facet of our project planning and execution.

Infection Control & Safety: Adhering to ASHE healthcare construction standards, we emphasize rigorous infection control and safety measures, including comprehensive staff training and constant collaboration with hospital leadership to adapt our Infection Control Risk Mitigation Recommendations (ICRMRs).

Communication & Scheduling: We maintain open lines of communication with hospital staff and patients through various channels, ensuring that everyone is informed and engaged throughout the project. Work is meticulously scheduled to minimize disruption, with a focus on performing noise-intensive activities during less impactful times.

Environmental Integrity: Through diligent environmental monitoring, including air quality tests, we safeguard the hospital’s healing environment, strictly adhering to Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) protocols and implementing Interim Life Safety Measures (ILSM) to protect all hospital occupants.

Noise & Vibration Management: Proactive measures are taken to assess and mitigate noise and vibration, involving pre-construction noise testing and real-time communication with hospital staff to adjust activities as needed.

Water & Utility Management: We manage potential water intrusion and utility issues by identifying critical lines early, conducting pre-demolition tests, and closely coordinating with hospital facilities to ensure a seamless operation that does not interfere with hospital services.

In essence, our approach is built on a foundation of respect for the hospital environment and its occupants, striving to ensure our construction activities cause no harm and that the hospital can continue to operate efficiently and safely throughout our projects.

Breaking New Ground in Health Education

At Kitchell, we are thrilled to announce the commencement of our newest project in Texas: the Health Professions Building at Sam Houston State University. Breaking ground next month, this new venture underscores our commitment to enhancing the educational landscape for future healthcare leaders.

Rendering courtesy of SmithGroup

Design development documents for the project were among the items approved recently by the Texas State University System Board of Regents. To be located next to the College of Osteopathic Medicine in Conroe, the four-level Health Professions Building will serve as a new home for SHSU’s allied health programs in the core fields of Athletic Training, Dietetics, Physician’s Assistant and Physical Therapy.

A Legacy of Health Education Construction

For over 70 years, Kitchell has been at the forefront of constructing state-of-the-art facilities that foster innovation, learning, and excellence in healthcare education. Our portfolio boasts the completion of medical teaching projects totaling over $2.3 billion in value, all while nurturing long-standing partnerships with prestigious institutions across the nation. From the University of Arizona’s award-winning Health Sciences Innovation Building to the comprehensive Clinical Skills & Simulation Suite at the University of California Riverside to teaching hospitals like UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center, our projects have consistently set the benchmark for excellence in health education.

In the ever-evolving world of healthcare, the need for cutting-edge educational facilities that mirror the complexity and dynamism of real-world medical environments has never been more critical. Unique medical education spaces, such as advanced simulation labs, are at the forefront of this transformative shift, offering immersive simulation events that incorporate game-based learning to prepare students for the unpredictable nature of patient care. These labs go beyond traditional learning, enabling students to engage in scenarios that replicate emergency situations, surgical procedures, and clinical decision-making in real-time. Additionally, the integration of nursing and clinical skills training areas within these spaces ensures that students gain hands-on experience in patient care, from basic assessments to complex interventions.

Above: Simulation Center at the University of Arizona’s Health Sciences Innovation Building

Pharmacy training spaces within these innovative educational facilities are designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of medication management, compounding, and the critical role pharmacists play in patient health outcomes. Surgical and imaging technology training areas are equipped with the latest equipment, from laparoscopic simulators to state-of-the-art imaging scanners, allowing students to hone their technical skills and understanding of anatomical structures in a risk-free environment. Moreover, the advent of 3D-printed tissues has revolutionized the way future medical professionals learn about the human body, offering unparalleled opportunities for advanced simulation support. This technology enables the creation of realistic organ models and complex tissue structures, providing a tactile learning experience that textbooks simply cannot match.

Health informatics spaces within these educational settings are designed to bridge the gap between healthcare and technology, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to navigate and leverage electronic health records, data analysis, and digital health applications. These spaces foster an understanding of how informatics can improve patient care, streamline workflows, and contribute to the advancement of healthcare systems. By integrating these diverse yet interconnected learning environments, medical education facilities are not just preparing students for the healthcare landscape of today but are paving the way for the innovations and challenges of tomorrow.

Download Kitchell’s recent Health Education experience.

In building these medical education spaces, from simulation labs to health informatics suites, our expertise extends beyond mere construction to a profound understanding of the specific needs and intricacies of each area, including the costs associated with creating such advanced, multifunctional environments. Our approach is rooted in a deep commitment to innovation and efficiency, ensuring that each project not only meets the highest standards of educational excellence but also aligns with budgetary considerations, thereby delivering value without compromising on quality or the educational mission.