Open house shows off a city within a city

MILFORD — A city within the city was opened up to the public last week.

“Cardboard City,” as it is called by Bayhealth staffers, serves as a mock-up of actual rooms which will occupy the new Bayhealth hospital in the southeast region of Milford.

According to Alice Bavis Rausch, southern region strategy and brand program manager with Bayhealth, Bayhealth has operated the set-up out of a warehouse across from 84 Lumber in Milford for months.

As members of the public and staffers alike walked the “halls” inside the warehouse filled with cardboard Thursday during an open house, current staff members told them the reasons behind each room set-up.

“You’re entering the operating room, hopefully you’re not awake long if you ever have to come in here,” Ms. Bavis Rausch joked with a group of current and former staff members.

As the group continued through the tour, she explained that everything from the positions of the hospital beds to bathroom needs and even the type of drywall used has been and continues to be evaluated by staff for usability.

“You can see that the drywall seen here probably will not be in the new hospital,” she said while pointing to a wall with puncture marks. “We’ve been testing out all different types of drywall because sometimes the beds bump into the wall whether it’s on accident or, sometimes, by the patients.”

Senior Director of Patient Care Services Andrea Holecek saw the group next when they arrived to a cardboard mock-up of a patient’s room.

“We’re looking at the 11th or 12th design of a patient room,” she said. “We’ll have lots more at the patient’s bedside and what’s called a nurse server just before the door to each room where we’ll store linens and other needs.”

But what she’s most proud of, she said, was how the bathrooms will be setup in each room.

“There’s been a lot of research out there on falls in hospitals. We’ve found that most falls happen because they [patients] can’t get to the bathroom,” she said.

Patient rooms in the new Bayhealth facility will have bathrooms on the same wall as the patient’s head, allowing it to be directly in view. The room will also include a grab-bar between the bed and the bathroom so patients have easier access.

“We put a lot of evidence and science into it,” Ms. Holecek told the group. “Number one, for safety, and number two, for healing. For example, we also put in as much natural lighting as possible while healing.”

The tour continued down the “hall” to a mock-up of an emergency room.

Emergency rooms in the current hospital located downtown include three-sided rooms while the fourth side offers privacy with a curtain.

Curtains will no longer be used for separation in the new hospital, according to Ms. Bavis Rausch.

The mock-up of the new, private emergency rooms included doors with privacy and infection control in mind.

Separate emergency rooms will also be available for abuse victims with private showers.

With those two ideals and heightened needs of other patients in mind, the Intensive Care and Acute Care Units will be designed so that patients can stay in one room for the majority of their care.

The helipad, currently situated in a nearby parking lot, will no longer be so far from hospital care, Ms. Bavis Rausch continued to tell the group.

“The helipad will be on the roof. They’ll take an elevator down to a room and they’ll be able to work independently in that room,” she said. “We need to be prepared for any disaster.”

Guests to Cardboard City went on to visit another stage of life: birth.

Labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms will be “bigger for more birth guests,” clinical coordinator Lori Martin said.

She has worked at the Milford hospital for 17 years and was “very excited to be a part of the process.”

Bayhealth in Milford will continue to boast its “Baby-Friendly” status which means staff encourages mothers to breastfeed and room in with their newborns.

“We needed room to make sure all of that could happen,” Ms. Martin said. Easier to access electrical outlets were also a necessity in the new maternity rooms.

The new rooms will include an extra outcove for equipment necessary for birth, but not for the postpartum period.

Ms. Bavis Rausch said Cardboard City has had a great impact on the designs of rooms soon-to-be-seen in Milford.

“The door in the maternity room is just something we didn’t notice on paper. It opened in. But it wouldn’t give the nurse room to work with the baby. So we changed it so the door opened in, but the other direction,” she said.

Showing off the new, private medical oncology infusion bays, she added that the television in each room was originally positioned lower in a cabinet of sorts.

“But when you reclined back and put your feed up, well, that just wouldn’t work. So we put it up there,” she said pointing to a corner. “You can’t know that unless you sit in that chair.”

The infusion bays which, she said, are currently organized as a “community affair,” would be made into private rooms with frosted glass windows so patients can choose to be social or choose to spend the time alone or with their family.

“Ultimately, we made these private spaces because it’s important. And it’s important to spend time with your family. We found that most research shows that family will look out for you like no one else,” Ms. Bavis Rausch said.

Plans for the new hospital also feature a behavioral health suit and a garden which can be seen by many patient rooms.

To maximize the space inside the warehouse and minimize construction time, Bayhealth is also constructing bathrooms for the new facility inside its walls.

Construction at the site of the new facility is set to begin in 2017. Bayhealth officials hope to “move in” in 2019.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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