The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Florida is modernizing and improving its facilities, programs, and services for the more than 108,000 Veterans it serves.
Across the system, several key projects and initiatives have been completed or are underway. The improvement efforts are the result of intensive strategic planning undertaken by the healthcare system’s leaders, and frontline employees with input from Veterans and other external stakeholder groups.
Physical and Technological Changes at the Medical Center
The most substantial and visible change on the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center campus is the new 155,000-square-foot Mental Health Center pictured above. The new facility features a wide array of inpatient, outpatient, and residential services for Veterans seeking mental health care. The facility opened to serve Veterans in September 2017.
Space that was previously used to house mental health staff, services, and equipment will be renovated and converted into new primary care clinics. The new primary care clinics will be designed to meet VA’s Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) construction requirements which call for “onstage” and “offstage” areas. Veterans will receive care in exam rooms located in onstage areas.
Onstage areas are designed to allow teams of multidisciplinary health care professionals to deliver services to Veterans in one location versus moving patients from clinic to clinic or from provider to provider. Clinical and administrative work requirements will take place in areas designated for employees, also called offstage areas.
Other noticeable upgrades at the medical center campus include the renovation of inpatient units located in the main hospital building. Ward 3D was the first to go through improvements and transitioned to a new patient-centered environment with private and semi-private rooms and the latest medical equipment. The unit was activated in May 2016.
Work on ward 5D is also complete, and the unit is expected to activate in January 2018. Like 3D, the unit features private and semi-private rooms and is fully equipped to treat patients who require telemetry and bedside dialysis. The remaining wards will go through similar renovations.
Features of all the renovated wards include newly installed ceiling lift systems that allow for safe patient transport to and from the bed and to the shower; a state-of-the-art nurse call and telemetry system; an interactive patient education and entertainment system; secure medication dispensing technologies; decentralized nursing stations; and mobile technology to allow medical professionals to more efficiently manage care of hospitalized Veterans.
On the north side of the campus, a new 17,375-square-foot cancer infusion/chemotherapy center is starting to take shape. The new center will augment and be connected to the existing radiation oncology center.
According to lead project manager Michael Norman, the new facility will feature 26 chemotherapy stations and an onsite compounding pharmacy. Construction is expected to be complete in August 2018. When the building is activated, that part of the campus will effectively become a “one-stop shop” for cancer care where Veterans can receive a full range of state-of-the-art cancer treatment.
On the west side of campus, construction of a new 12,440-square-foot research addition is nearly complete that will allow for the expansion of the Bay Pines VAHCS’s Research and Development programs. Construction of the new building is scheduled to be complete in February 2018 with activation occurring in the months following.
Physical upgrades are not the only changes occurring on campus. Other recent enhancements include the installation and launch of guest Wi-Fi services in several of the main patient care buildings.
According to Barbara Harrington, Chief, Nutrition and Food Service, the early development of a plan to begin offering room service dining for hospitalized Veterans is also underway. Plans call for a “my time dining” concept that will give Veterans the option to order preferred meals and delivery time via telephone or from a virtual menu and ordering system provided bedside through the interactive patient care system.
She explained that the new program will help to improve Veterans satisfaction while reducing waste and food costs.
“We know that food and nutrition is important to health and recovery,” Harrington said. “The room service program will give patients the opportunity to choose foods they like so they will eat more, making their recovery likely to occur more quickly.”
Community Outpatient Clinic Enhancements
Modernization efforts are not limited to the C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center. Several projects are happening at community outpatient clinics operated by the healthcare system intended to improve and enhance health care delivery and customer service.
The most notable project includes the relocation and expansion of the Naples Community Based Outpatient Clinic. In October 2016, the healthcare system entered into a new 10-year lease agreement that will relocate the clinic from its current location at 2685 Horseshoe Drive South to 800 Goodlette Road North. The new building is more than double the size of the existing clinic and is expected to open in spring 2018.
Since initially opening in 2000, the Naples CBOC has experienced continued growth in both the number of individual Veterans accessing the facility and number of appointments requested and completed. Over the last five years alone, the number of patients served by the facility has increased by seven percent (from 6,627 to 7,092) while appointments completed have increased 20 percent (38,384 to 46,050).
All health care services currently available at the Naples CBOC will transition to the new facility. These services include primary care, mental health, women’s health, anticoagulation clinic, electrocardiograms (EKG), nutrition counseling, phlebotomy (blood draws and specimen collection), social work, and pharmacy consultation.
Another major improvement project in progress is the expansion of guest Wi-Fi services into some of community outpatient clinics starting with the Lee County Healthcare Center. While specific work timelines have not yet been established, Veterans can expect Wi-Fi services to be available at the Lee County Healthcare Center within the next year.
According to Bay Pines officials, the organization will continue developing improvement initiatives aimed to modernize facilities, programs, and services while meeting the needs of America’s Veterans.
“We want to change the dynamic so we can provide health care based on Veterans’ needs, values, and how they want to live,” said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS. “Much of what we are doing today is a result of direct feedback from the Veterans we serve across southwest Florida and the thousands of professionals we employ, many of whom are Veterans,” she said.
Klinker explained that the healthcare system has received a tremendous amount of feedback from Veterans, their loved ones, and other stakeholders from an array of methods available to capture “the voice of the customer.” Compliments, constructive comments or recommendations, and complaints are all viewed as potential opportunities for improvement.
“Anticipating, acting and advocating in the best interests of Veterans are at the forefront of our efforts to modernize and reform our organization. That is how we conduct business. The Veterans we serve deserve nothing less,” she said.
To learn more about the Bay Pines VAHCS’s modernization efforts, please visit www.baypines.va.gov.
Authors: Jason Dangel and Melanie Thomas, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Office of Public Affairs.