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Photo Gallery: Palomar Health's New 'Hospital of The Future'

The new Palomar Medical Center is stocked with sustainable technology, designed for efficiency and geared toward helping heal patients faster.

Palomar Health's new medical center was designed with three key things in mind: efficiency, flexibility and the community.

The 740,000-square-foot space set to open to the public in mid-August boasts 11 stories filled with 288 private, single-patient rooms, 12 operating rooms and 50 ER and trauma rooms.

The construction of the new facilities, which kicked off in December 2007, was the largest in the region at the time, according to David Tam, M.D., who is the chief administrative officer of Pomerado Hospital.

"The construction provided 6,000 jobs," Tam said at a press conference July 19. "We have 17,000 employees and will hire 300-400 new employees."

Palomar Medical Center will take the emergency and trauma responsibilities from the current medical center, located in downtown Escondido, but leave the old facilities other services, such as women and child care.

The new center, which is being dubbed as the "hospital of the future," incorporates a new, more efficient design based off input from physicians, nurses, staff, board members, community leaders and volunteers.

The emergency room is set up in a way that lets the nurses station see all rooms, with a "pod" in the center and the rooms along the outer edge of it. This "central hub" allows for each assigned nurse to see all of his or her assigned rooms at once. Each private patient room is also given a nursing station right outside each room, allowing for more personal care.

"The closer we put our patients to the doctors and nurses, the better the care," said Dr. Benjamin Kanter, chief medical information officer. "Each nurse is never farther away than a 'tap.'"

The ORs also incorporate the "core" concept, with six surgery rooms that open up to a sterile room that will hold extra tools, instruments, towels and more. Ths shared space allows doctors and nurses to easily access sterile surgery items quickly and efficiently.

Paul Patchen, director of surgery and procedures, said the ORs also use high-definition laproscopic instruments and cameras are built in to each room for future teaching purposes, should the hospital change into a "teaching hospital."

The flexibility of the facility comes from the innovative design of CO Architects. They made sure that all interior rooms are identical, making the actions of doctors and nurses quicker when they change working environments, and ensured that no walls were weight bearing, allowing for easy and hassle-free renovations, remodeling and upgrades.

The Palomar Medical Center also uses nature as inspiration for healing and energy-saving. Each of the 11 floors of the hospital are color-coded and designated with a different flower or plant.

"We're trying to be more hotel-oriented and deinstitutionalize the hospital," said architect Mike Shanahan. "Every floor has a theme to help with healing and comfort."

The hospital also uses the sun to light hallways and even the ORs with strategically placed skylights and solar tubes. The roof of part of the hospital is also "green," which is filled with native plants and greenery. The 1.5 acre rooftop reduced heat reflectance and absoprtion inside the building.

The new facilities won't be open to the public until Aug. 19, when it will fully take over the emergency responsibilities from the old hospital, but the community is invited to come check out the innovative "hospital of the future" on July 28.

The celebration is intended to thank the community for the construction of the hospital, which was made possible when district voters passed Proposition BB in 2004, a $496-million bond measure that helped pay for the construction.

Visitors can check out the new hospital, which is located at 2185 W. Citracado Pkwy., from 4-9 p.m. Saturday with self-guided tours, technology demonstrations, free food and drinks, live music, free health screenings, exhibits and children's activities. The event is free and tours will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Palomar Health district covers Ramona, Escondido, Poway, San Marcos, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Peñasquitos, Julian, Valley Center, Santa Ysabel and Pauma Valley.

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