SSM Health Celebrates First Birthday

Earlier last month, SSM Health Saint Louis University celebrated the Dodge County clinic’s one-year anniversary. The new facility will serve as a partial replacement for Saint Louis University Hospital.

Kelly Baumer, Vice President of Clinical Operations for SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, said that over time the former hospital became less equipped to handle their needs.

“It wasn’t just the number of clinic rooms, but also efficiency, input and flow. We spent a lot of time learning the process. We worked on how to get more people through while having an exceptional patient experience.” Baumer said.

The $550 million dollar replacement facility is located on 15 acres adjacent to the other hospital on Grand Boulevard between Rutger and Lasalle Streets. It includes a nine-story patient tower and three-story ambulance care center connected by a large common space. 

“The patients appreciate the artwork put into the facilities,” Baumer said. “We have a healing garden and a lot of natural light to make the environment a really exceptional experience.”

The new Emergency Rooms and Trauma Centers are also two to three times larger than the previous ones in order to meet the critical care of almost 50,000 patients annually.

Unfortunately, the five-story building required the demolition of  11 houses located north of the existing clinic as well as a significant cut by Eric Sundqist and a member of Madison’s Plan Commission. However, Brandon King, regional director of planning, design and construction for SSM Health, said that the new hospital sets the stage for future development and is what the city needs. King also acknowledged that housing is a critical “social determinant of health” while mentioning that the demolished houses had been vacant since mid-2017.

The clinic will maintain health services in the community, providing services in family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, women’s health, physical and occupational therapy and ear, nose and throat. It will also include centers for orthopedics and oncology.

Baumer stressed how impressed she was with the team’s five-year timeline of construction, especially because of its perseverance through the coronavirus pandemic. To maintain everyone’s safety, staff training was virtual and only small groups were allowed to enter the hospital.

 “We took staff in small groups through the facility so they could understand their department, where they were going and work on their workflows through the new space,” Baumer said. “In addition, a year prior, we did a Transitions Operations Process; we met with every team and department in the hospital and developed a playbook for how they were going to function in their new space. This proved to be helpful when we brought on new staff so they could use it when they came into the new space as well.”

Furthermore, furniture was spaced out in common areas to maintain social distancing and plexiglass was installed throughout the building. Robert Wilmott, M.D., Dean and Vice President of Medical Affairs for the School of Medicine, said that the new hospital is transformational. To commemorate this, SLU and SSM Health buried a 100-year time capsule at the site to be opened by future nurses and doctors in 2119.

The new SLU hospital will grant the capacity to treat an additional 55,000 emergency patients annually while providing state-of-the-art patient care services. The facility allows SSM Health to create the physical space to serve the community, offering quality health care services to the region.

“We are even getting comments from out-patients about what a wonderful environment it is,” Baumer said. “We are hearing how easy it is to get around in the facilities and how beautiful it is to receive care there. My favorite part of the new facility is how we are able to provide such exceptional patient care but in an environment that is so beautiful and natural”.