Lessons Learned: The Big Move

By: Andy Parsons

No matter how hard you plan, the days leading up to a big office or patient move are filled with stress, anxiety and anticipation. Will the move be a success or an utter failure? You’ve done all you can to prepare. It’s time.

Recently, EDI worked with St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction to build out the remaining four shell floors of their Century Tower. In July, the final two floors were completed and ready for patients. EDI worked with St. Mary’s to plan a successful transition. Two of our associates, Mark McComb and Andy Parsons were on-site to observe and lend a hand in case something came up that would require their assistance on the big day. Here are a few of the things that they observed during this successful patient move:

  1. Mary’s had a staffed command center with phones and PCs for taking calls, logging them, and assigning them to be fixed. We all met early before the move to decide a go/no go on the move. Everything was good, so we said “go” and everyone took their positions around the hospital.
  2. The move team communicated via their Vocera personal communication devices on a call group. With Vocera, you can have an “open line” that an authorized group can listen to. Only three people were allowed to talk on it, but everyone could hear what is going on. One big item is that this group learned was that when everyone signed into Vocera to listen in, they hit their license limit; a first for the hospital. IT was able to remove some non-critical staff via the control software and an all-call page was made for any non-critical staff to log off to get some licenses back.
  3. Mary’s moved (47) patients from two existing units in the older part of the hospital to the new 9th and 10th floors. They had a detailed spreadsheet of each patient, their risks, number of family members with them, from/to room numbers and the exact time they would move. It is important to calculate the time it takes to move each patient. St. Mary’s had allotted about 2.5 hours to move all the patients which at first seemed like a very long duration, but it was really just 3-4 minutes per patient which is really quick. The move of each patient was spaced out several minutes apart. The initial spreadsheet had some incorrect times for the later patients so we had to print new ones and have runners deliver paper to the various departments. Emailing the new spreadsheets wasn’t an option due to HIPAA regulations. In fact, once the move was completed the spreadsheets were collected and shredded to protect patient information.
  4. The actual moving of patients was coordinated by teams. St. Mary’s was moving from two older departments to the two new floors. They had large transport in each department and alternated between departments to allow time for the transport team to get up to the new floor and back down for the next patient. The patients were ready to go with all their personal items until they got the signal from the command center to move. St. Mary’s reserved two elevators (one for each department) in override mode with staff running them so the vertical transport was really fast. The move actually went faster than planned and there were only very minor issues. It went so smoothly that staff found their preparation for the “worst case scenario” wasn’t needed in the end.

In closing, we found that part of the reason for the success of this patient move is that the transition and construction team allotted almost a month of time in between substantial completion and the move itself. This gap is typically compressed on most projects, but it is critical to have enough time to find issues and resolve them before patient move. During that time, St. Mary’s conducted two “days in the life” where the nurses worked with all the systems on the new floors and found bugs. After those were completed, the floors were left open for a week where staff could just come up and play around. They found some critical issues that we were able to resolve before the move. If we had only had a week or two, the move probably would have been delayed because the issues would have been found too late.

EDI would like to thank St. Mary’s for allowing us to be a part of this successful project.