St. Luke’s East Hospital celebrated a landmark in the hospital’s history Feb. 1 with the first procedure inside the new 25,000-square-foot surgical department expansion.
The largest building project in the St. Luke’s Health System during 2017, the $10 million addition to the hospital in Lee’s Summit includes two new operating suites; triage and recovery rooms; spacious break, storage and office areas; and technology-driven workspace equipped with state-of-the art digital equipment.
“We wanted to make sure we had the best tools, space, and equipment to ensure comfort, efficiency, and ease for our surgery staff,” St. Luke’s East Hospital CEO Ron Baker said.
This hospital’s surgery staff already performed a wide variety of procedures — including general, robot-assisted, plastic, orthopedic, vascular, neurological, and gynecological surgeries. The new facility also allows for bariatric surgery as well as surgery to install the LINX System for GERD.
“Within the St. Luke’s system, we’re the current leaders in orthopedics and joint replacement,” Baker said. “Our goal is to continue growing and be the surgical leader in Jackson County.”
Continued growth within the hospital’s surgical department — last year, the surgery team performed a record 4,282 surgeries, including 419 in December alone — required more space, especially with the number of surgeries projected to continue increasing.
“The goal of the suites was to make our strengths stronger,” Baker said. “We also designed with a vision for the future. This new facility will accommodate at least 10 to 12 years of future growth.”
Administrative and surgical staff at St. Luke’s East Hospital worked with ACI Boland Architects and J.E. Dunn Construction from the initial planning phase through the completion of the project, weighing in on even small details of the project.
“Everyone was engaged from the outset of the planning and shares ownership,” said Cristen Shelton, recovery room manager. “Together, we looked at every detail down to the chairs, workstations, storage space, and technology.”
An eye on efficiency was a key focus in the planning stages.
“An operating suite is a complex structure to design and build,” Baker said. “It’s all about efficiency. The idea was to build a well-orchestrated facility that is conducive for the team, while also providing space for each individual to successfully complete his or her work and reduce negative variation.”
One of the news suites is larger and accommodates robotic-assisted surgery.
“We have a shared governance program, in order to ensure we’re on the cutting edge of the latest and best technology and equipment,” Shelton said. “To ensure that, we’re all engaged in the onboarding of these new technologies. We emulate the best in the industry, such as robotics.”
Recently, St. Luke’s East staff surgeon Dr. Michael Arroyo completed his 500th robotics surgery and was the first surgeon in Kansas City to reach that milestone. He is also a hospital leader in the new bariatric surgeries, which include gastric-bypass procedures.
Expansive storage space for supplies and equipment should enhance the new facility’s efficiency, including a sterile storage area three times the size of the previous sterile storage space.
One of the more exceptional features of St. Luke East’s facility is something not typically found in surgery departments — windows. Unlike many operating suites, natural light is in abundance throughout the new space with sunlight brightening the break room, hallways, and offices.
“Windows are very unusual for an OR,” Baker said, “but we decided they would be a great thing for patients and staff.”
Certainly, it’s been a hit with the staff.
“Initially, the windows started out small in the design, but we recognized how much people love them and made them bigger,” Shelton said. “Windows were a big consideration for our patients and employees.”
St. Luke’s East — with 1,325 employees — already was the largest private employer in Lee’s Summit. The hospital expects to hire an additional 25 employees to staff the new operating suites.
“This hospital is all about people taking care of people,” Baker said. “All of this equipment is cool, but it’s the people that make it really special. People come here for surgery and go home feeling better than when they came. Employees have a sense of pride. This is their hospital. They have a higher sense of calling. It’s more than a job.”
Whitney Huddleston, surgical services manager, agreed: “We’re like family here. It’s a culture you want to be part of. We treat our patients like family. We even bring our own families here for surgery. That speaks volumes.”