Hartford, CT – Later this month, Hartford Hospital will celebrate the completion of the final phase of construction at the Educational Resource Center (ERC) on Hartford Hospital’s downtown campus. The renovations to Heublein Hall’s lobby and support conference rooms, a combined 4,000sf lobby/breakout area to the main presentation hall completes the phased 35,000sf upgrades of this circa 1960’s precast and brick facility.
Tecton Architects, Inc. and its design team engineers at van Zelm Engineers (MEP) and Szewczak Associates (Structural) worked closely to complete the multi-phased renovations with FIP Construction, the project Construction Manager.
Formerly the Nursing School for Hartford Hospital, the ERC is now home to the world-renowned Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI), a state-of-the-art “simulation center” designed to give students, clinicians and physicians cutting-edge opportunities in advanced medical education to train and perfect their simulated skills prior to applying acquired theory on actual patients without practice.
It is also a platform for continued certification and education on the continually evolving procedures and discoveries in the medical field using life-sized, fully responsive computerized mannequins that replicate all responses of the human body.
Tecton’s leadership in Evidenced Based Design engaged the team during the planning state of the project. The team did exhaustive research into the current and future development of training techniques and equipment, as the team visited two sites in Houston, Texas and Cambridge to test knowledge gained against lessons learned.
Work at the Educational Resource Center began modestly enough with the renovations to a lecture hall and north lounge where finish upgrades would become standard throughout the building. Cherry wood columns and modern lighting replaced the once austere and outdated fixtures while parquet wood flooring was restored to its original glory.
In the next phases, we began in earnest to design what would become one of the most advanced robotic surgery centers in New England. Located on the second floor of the three-story building (the third floor is home to the center’s library), we completely redesigned the former school while it remained occupied. Maintaining school and lecture schedules without interruption required multiple phased design and construction techniques. An abatement plan was carefully crafted for phased removal during construction to maintain an undisturbed school curriculum. Interim life safety and infection control were always of paramount concern to the hospital as well as the architectural, engineering, and construction staff.
The building itself posed a number of challenges as it revealed pre-existing conditions. The building envelope had been breached in several places and existing single-paned windows were experiencing thermal breaks. Our team’s solution secured the exterior envelope from water intrusion and replaced the fenestration with double-paned, thermal windows. As you can imagine, the aging infrastructure posed challenges for the design team as we upgraded and replaced current mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in order to bring the building up to modern codes and use requirements.
Ultimately, our design provided Hartford Hospital with five simulation procedures rooms with fixed and movable equipment simulator areas. CESI is divided into three areas of study – procedure labs, task training labs and classrooms. From individual control rooms at each of the five labs – Operating, ED/Trauma, Intensive Care Unit, Labor & Delivery and Resuscitation – students, clinicians and physicians are put through the paces, introducing smoke (vapor), noise (helicopters and rescue vehicles sirens), complete darkness and patients arresting with heart stoppages or major bleeding. You name it, they simulate it. The task training labs provide endoscopic, orthotic, intubation, suturing, robotic training using a dual console da Vinci Surgical robot and more. Labs and classrooms with flat-panel touch screens and smart boards are part of the instructor’s tools in educating where they are able to review and critique live streaming, and video-taped procedures.
As partners with Hartford Hospital, our team worked in concert to develop an expandable program with an organic flow of projected space. As funding became available earlier than expected through a very handsome donation, we were able to move forward without redesigning or rethinking the project. Tecton Architects, Inc. and our engineering partners at van Zelm Engineers and Szewczak Associates are proud to support Hartford Hospital in their innovative mission to create a CESI focused on providing a higher standard of care for patients now and in the future.
Robert Amatuli, AIA, Principal, is Tecton’s Director of Healthcare Design.