Sentara opens new building

Published 10:20 pm Thursday, November 2, 2017

A new medical building in Suffolk is streamlining patient care with innovative design and the latest technology.

Sentara held a ribbon cutting on Thursday for the recently opened medical office at the Obici Hospital Campus on Godwin Boulevard. Sentara Family Medicine Physicians will be relocated to the 20,000-square-foot building, along with an occupational medicine practice based in the main hospital building.

The $6.6-million facility features a new delivery care concept pioneered at Sentara Edinburgh in Chesapeake that reduces the amount of time — and even the number of steps — required to treat patients effectively, said Dr. Doug Culling, Sentara Healthcare corporate vice president.

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“It makes things more efficient and more timely for the patients,” Culling said.

This delivery care concept is based on patient surveys, focus groups and other research to determine what is most convenient for them. The result of that research is a uniquely designed building that promotes “self-rooming” and separate pathways for patients and staff, according to practice manager Marion Williams.

Self-rooming means patients are able to check in and locate their examination rooms themselves using convenient signage in the building. Wings of the building are labeled with Suffolk-centric images like cardinals and Mr. Peanut to allow patients with less English proficiency to understand where they’re going, Williams said.

“The whole theme is to make this run as smoothly as possible,” he said.

The facility has two off-stage areas, each connected to at least a dozen exam rooms, Williams said. These rooms are equipped with iPads and status screens that allow patients to observe all relevant medical data in the same room that they are diagnosed, weighed and evaluated.

Staff work in the off-stage areas to reduce congestion in the hallways. Medications are housed in these areas to further minimize treatment time for patients, Williams said.

“It just provides us the opportunity to have the right tools, vaccines and medications on-hand, when needed,” he said.

The target throughput time from when patients first arrive to when they leave is 45 minutes, which can vary based on patient needs, according to director of operations Heather Medford-Strock. This is done by keeping patients in one single room for the duration of their visits, rather than moving them from one room to the next for various needs.

“We want everything to occur in the room,” Medford-Strock said. “It’s a one-stop shop.”

Dr. Lindsey Vaughn said patients have been guided through the facility’s features since the building opened recently. There has been a learning curve, he said, but they’ve responded positively to this innovative process.

“They’re so used to being moved to different rooms that they’re amazed they don’t have to go anywhere else,” he said.

Sentara Obici Hospital president Dr. Steve Julian said the new building is part of the vision to reinvigorate health care in Suffolk and for the hospital to become a premier health care destination in Western Tidewater.

“I’m excited that this reinvigoration is occurring here in Suffolk,” Julian said.