The New Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee Will Transform the Patient Experience

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Milwaukee, WI, September 21, 2010 – When the new Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee opens October 12, 2010, it will continue a 162-year tradition of medical excellence from two of Milwaukee’s premier hospitals – Columbia Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital. Within the new hospital, Columbia St. Mary’s has incorporated the best in medical practice from around the world, thus setting the standard for safe, efficient, patient-centered, and affordable healthcare.

The new Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital was built using the principles of Evidence-based Design (EBD), an emerging science that guides healthcare design to improve patient outcomes. The nine-story hospital includes 312 patient beds (411 total on hospital campus), three Specialty Institutes. Expansive windows, two-story family lounges and a grand atrium offer panoramic views of Lake Michigan, the historic Water Tower and the downtown skyline, as do the majority of the patient rooms.Also located on the 22-acre campus are a Women’s Hospital (former Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital), Cancer Center and medical office buildings.

The principal architect, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK), a global leader in healthcare design, incorporated five evidence-based design elements into the facility to create a patient-centered environment and to promote healing:

  • Access to Nature: 80 percent of the rooms have tremendous views of Lake Michigan.Two-story glass family lounges provide a relaxing environment as do views of the two roof-top gardens.
  • Patient control: Individual room controls (lighting, temperature) which allow patients to customize their environment.
  • Social Support: Spacious, private rooms designed to accommodate overnight stays for a family member or friend.
  • Pleasant Diversions: Window sills were lowered to enable patients lying in a bed to enjoy the views of nature.Pleasing artwork, a Garden Café featuring made to order items, and healing gardens (open spring 2011) are available.
  • Stress Reduction: Special building materials, including noise-reducing ceiling tiles, absorb sound ensuring a quiet environment for patients.

Other features include decentralized nursing with nurse stations located outside of each patient room.Acuity-adaptable rooms reduce the need to transfer patients to different rooms.And, Vocera communication devices enable nursing staff to be called immediately.

Hospital officials worked with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Center for Health Design on three primary objectives:to increase patient safety, reduce stress, and minimize the hospital’s environmental footprint. According to Brideau, working with these groups enabled Columbia St. Mary’s to incorporate global best-practices into the design, resulting in a state-of-the-art hospital the represents the future of healthcare.

“We’ve built a hospital that doesn’t have marble floors or waterfalls,” said Brideau.“What it has are investments that are just as expensive as marble floors and waterfalls but they’re investments in things that make a difference in healing such as a state-of-the-art HVAC system, ensuring a constant flow of clean, fresh air.”

According to Brideau, that healthcare experience lends itself to staff too.“The most important part of any hospital is the people inside who care for our patients,” said Brideau.“We’ve now given our expert staff the very best environment for taking care of patients.We’ve made the building itself a tool for patient care.”

Specialty Institutes Create Efficient, Patient-Centered Environment

Central to the new hospital are its three Specialty Institutes that are accessed in the Concourse off of the main lobby.Each Institute provides comprehensive care in one convenient location.The Institutes include spacious private rooms with private bathrooms.The Institutes are:

  • McKeithan Testing & Treatment Institute (Named after Mr. & Mrs. Daniel F “Jack” McKeithan, Jr) --Bariatric Center, Laboratory, Full Outpatient Services, Pulmonary Function, Surgical Services, Wound Care Center, Hyperbaric Services.
  • Heart & Vascular Institute --Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cardiac Catheterization, EKG, Nuclear Stress Testing, Pacemaker Clinic, Peripheral Vascular Lab, Surgical Services, Vascular Institute.
  • Orthopaedic & Neuroscience Institute ---Medical Imaging, Rehabilitation Services, Neurosciences, Orthopaedics, Pain Management, Surgical Services, Wisconsin Chiari Institute.

In addition to the Institutes, Columbia St. Mary’s Regional Burn Center is located on the 5th Floor, and Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute (SHRI) on the 8th Floor (SHRI will move from Columbia Hospital to the new hospital in December.)

Columbia St. Mary’s Women’s Hospital and Nationally-Recognized Cancer Center

The Columbia St. Mary’s Women’s Hospital, located in the former “cloverleaf” hospital building, consolidates inpatient and outpatient services for women and infants, with 35 mother/baby rooms, and 18-bed neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU), a nine-bed pediatric unit and the Van Dyke Haebler Center for Women’s Imaging.

“With it’s own entrance and valet parking, the Women’s Hospital will set a new community standard by delivering exceptional healthcare and customer service in an environment that is certain to exceed women’s expectations,” said Gail Ostrander, Columbia St. Mary’s Executive Director of Women’s Services.

Just across the street from the Women’s Hospital is Columbia St. Mary’s Cancer Center.Columbia St. Mary’s was the first health system in Wisconsin to be selected by the National Cancer Institute as a pilot site for its Community Cancer Centers Program.

An Earth-Friendly Design

The new Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee was designed to improve the planet’s health, with green technologies that reduce energy consumption and minimize the hospital’s impact on the environment.

Two roof-top gardens – a 12,800-square-foot garden on the fifth floor overlooking North Avenue and a 6,000-square-foot-garden on the roof of the entrance atrium – will absorb rainwater, relieving pressure on the city’s drainage system during rain storms. They will also provide an aesthetically pleasing landscape that can be viewed from patient rooms.

Other environmental features include:

  • A “rain screen” exterior wall system to reduce energy costs and provide a superior water barrier
  • A computerized lighting system automatically adjusts the building’s exterior lighting, based on both the time of day and the time of year
  • High-efficiency fluorescent lighting will consume less energy while generating the same amount of light as standard fixtures
  • Motion sensors that turn lights off when non-patient areas are not in use.
  • (See fact sheet for other “green” initiatives regarding use of recycled materials)

Groundbreaking for the $417 million hospital project was held on June 28, 2006.The Principal Architect was HOK, with CG Schmidt-Barton Malow serving as the General Contractor.During the four-year construction process, more than 350 separate contracts were issued and more than 4,800 people helped to build the new facility.

Consolidating the two hospitals will reduce the number of hospital beds on Milwaukee’s east side by 44 percent (from 731 licensed beds to 411 currently) and it will save the health system $19 million in annual operating costs.

The new hospital is the final component of the four-year building project on the 22-acre campus. Other projects on that campus included:

  • Prospect Medical Commons, a 155,000-square-foot-medical office building that also houses Whole Foods market.
  • Water Tower Medical Commons, a 162,000-square-foot medical office building that includes Columbia St. Mary’s Cancer Center and medical offices.
  • Three new parking structures; four in total providing more than 2,000 parking spaces.

Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee Opening

Key Dates for Media

Event Date Time

News Conference
-New Hospital Atrium

September 21 10:30 am

Dedication Ceremony

September 25 10:00 am

Community Open House

October 2 11:00 am to 6:00

New Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital

October 12

Fully Open

About Emergency Rooms

  • Columbia Hospital ER Closes
  • New Columbia St. Mary’ Hospital
    Milwaukee ER Opens

October 12

October 8

3:00 pm



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