St. Francis Medical Center Emergency Department Relocation & Expansion

  • area / size 168,000 sqft
  • Completed 2019
  • RTA Architects completed the relocation & expansion of St. Francis Medical Center Emergency Department in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    St. Francis Medical Center (SFMC) undertook an expansion to its Emergency Department (ED), a Level III Trauma Center, due to unprecedented growth in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The ED relocation and expansion was part of a multi-phase 168,000 SF $100M expansion that also included new operating rooms, a renovated and expanded Level III NICU, and shell space for future growth.

    The SFMC ED/OR/NICU expansion was a monumental effort driven by staff, facility engineers, and design and construction professionals. Utilizing Integrated Project Delivery with a multi-party agreement, the owner and stakeholders were brought into the process at the onset of design. The design team underwent an immersion experience in which they shadowed and observed the operations within the existing SFMC ED. One key observation made during the immersion process was the limitation of the existing Pod model which compromised staff interaction and collaboration due to the limited ability of the staff to see and interact from one staff work area to the next. As a result, the new ED was designed in a linear fashion so that staff could collaborate with adjacent work areas and have visibility to all patient rooms down the length of the new main ED. The Main ED has three trauma rooms, six observation rooms, four behavioral health rooms, and 29 exam rooms. The trauma rooms are served by two elevators providing direct access from the ambulance bay directly below the ED.

    The new ED moved to a split-flow model of care with the goals of improved staff efficiency and patient satisfaction and reduced patient wait times. This was achieved through early triage, more accurate patient room assignments, clarified wayfinding, and improved organization of staff stations and resource layout.

    An important feature of the new ED is to provide patients with an efficient intake and triage process. Patients are called directly from the primary waiting area into one of the four Intake rooms where their vitals are taken and their Emergency Severity Index (ESI) is assessed. Patients are then transferred directly to either the Super Track or Main ED (split flow model of care) depending on the severity of their ESI without having to return to the waiting area.

    SFMC is located east of the Front Range foothills in Colorado Springs. This unique microclimate is the intersection where the forests, plains, and mountains meet. A parti of the forest was chosen to refelct the natural setting, but also to emulate the sense of protection and safety provided within. Linear elements are used to express the verticality of the trees. Major wayfinding nodes are highlighted with ceiling features mimicking the dappled light filtered through the forest canopy.

    The ED program was pushed north out of the four-story building envelope to provide visibility and enhance wayfinding while allowing for natural light to be introduced into internal staff work areas with skylights and clerestory windows. Staff and family respite areas are provided outside each stairwell with views of the Front Range and Pikes Peak.

    Design: RTA Architects
    Contractor: GE Johnson Construction Company
    Photography: Time Frame Images