After five years of construction and planning, the $1.3 billion New Parkland Hospital in Dallas opened its doors this morning. The ER and Labor and Delivery began accepting patients at 6 a.m. Throughout the morning, patients in the old hospital across the street are arriving at the new one via an air conditioned sky bridge.
The trip on the sky bridge from the 1954 Parkland to New Parkland is only a thousand feet over Harry Hines Boulevard, but the two hospitals are worlds apart.
“All the new rooms at the hospital are all private rooms, which is a huge improvement from our old facility where we had a lot of semi-private rooms, the bulk," Judy Herrington, a Parkland nurse explained on a tour of the new hospital a few months ago. "So these rooms are about 40 percent bigger than our old Parkland rooms.”
Last week, Dr. Roberto de la Cruz was in those rooms taking part in drills with pretend patients. He leads UT Southwestern doctors treating people at Parkland. De la Cruz says he and others ran through every possible daily demand for patient care – no matter how small.
“Label printing, dietary orders, safety issues, cleanliness of the floors, cleanliness of the rooms, delivery of supplies, replenishment of supplies to the patient’s room." De la Cruz said. "You know, so the dots are connected.”
Connecting the dots today, moving real patients into those rooms is Dr. Alex Eastman, head of the New Parkland Trauma Center. He says the logistics of ‘birthing’ New Parkland are enormous. Even the order in which the patients will cross the bridge is meticulously choreographed,
“It’s a complicated dance because of the way we need to empty the route out over there," Eastman said. "We’re moving an entire urban, inner-city safety-net hospital.”
Kris Gaw, Parkland’s Operations Administrator, says it’s taken a long time to get to Game Day, as they’re calling it.
“The planning has been happening well over a year," Gaw said. "So, we have planned out to move somewhere between six and seven hundred patients across the bridge over a three day period of time.”
She and Dr. Eastman are the “incident commanders” for the move. Eastman is confident the many months of desk top drills, and weeks of real-time rehearsals have prepared them well.
“We’ve got a great team and a good body of experience and I think we’ll be in great shape,” Eastman said.
The New Parkland is twice the size of the old one. The ER is five times bigger. There’s a helipad on the roof, which the old Parkland didn’t have. Laundry carts, food trays and other noisy housekeeping items travel separate hallways to avoid noise and clutter near patient rooms. And, patient floors are laid with rubber to hold down the noise, and be easier on nurses’ feet.
Dr. Roberto de la Cruz says it’s not just the all-digital, state of the art workplace he’s excited about.
“Patients deserve this," De la Cruz said. "Our community deserves a hospital they would be proud to be in.”
The sky bridge maneuver from old Parkland to New is expected to end sometime Saturday.