Opening the Clear Lake Campus Hospital—A five-month journey

May 9, 2019, 11:10 AM by Jessica Wyble

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Personnel. Equipment. Training. Infrastructure. Strategy. Collaboration. 

These are just some of the moving parts it takes to open a new hospital. 

Five months after officially announcing it had signed a 15-year agreement to lease the facility formerly known as Bay Area Regional Medical Center, UTMB opened its new Clear Lake Campus Hospital on March 30. 

Working together to reopen the doors of the nine-story, 367,976-square-foot facility, located at 200 Blossom St. in Webster, were people from a variety of UTMB departments and groups, as well as the local community. 

UTMB Property Services Associate Vice President Russell Rodecap and his team are just one of the groups that have been integrally involved in transforming the four-year-old structure into a fully-functioning hospital again. 

“From The Joint Commission perspective, we need to make sure this building operates per codes and standards necessary for hospitals,” said Rodecap. “Behind the scenes, we’re also focusing on the patient experience and overall environment of care.” 

Working alongside Rodecap’s team were several other Business Operations & Facilities departments, including Facilities Design & Construction, Utilities, Facilities Portfolio Management, Auxiliary Enterprise, Facilities Risk Management and Environmental Health & Safety. 

In addition to the physical infrastructure of the building itself, representatives from UTMB’s Information Services (IS) have been busy preparing and building the virtual and technological framework that helps support the day-to-day operations of the hospital. IS personnel were on-site, regularly assessing the needs of each department, installing countless machines and performing network and access checks. 

Recognizing the importance of having Epic—the software used to house patient medical records—up and running seamlessly by day one, IS designated Angel Krantz, an associate applications system analyst, to stand by during “day-in-the-life” trainings in the Clear Lake Campus Hospital to ensure equipment and systems were functioning optimally. 

Simulations that give employees the opportunity to practice procedures, processes and protocols without patients present, day-in-the-life trainings are a critical tool for both clinicians and support staff prior to opening. 

“Initially I was tasked with making sure there were workstations available for any and all drills, so that staff could practice in Epic if needed,” said Krantz, who volunteered to take on the Clear Lake project. “However, over time, I became a more general resource for the employees on-site, fielding a wide variety of IS questions and concerns. They felt comfortable coming to me.” 

While IS and Property Services did a thorough job adequately preparing the physical space of the new hospital, Katrina Lambrecht, vice president of UTMB Health System operations and regional hospitals, knows that having the appropriate framework and support in place is just one piece of the puzzle. 

“Opening a hospital is all-encompassing,” she said. “You have to consider everything from staffing and equipment needs to hours of operation, services offered and more.”

That’s where people like Shelito “Lee” Alviza, nurse manager for Critical Care, Telemetry and Medical & Surgical Units at the Clear Lake Campus Hospital, come into play. 

“From the start of this project, there was a lot of hiring and on-boarding that took place,” said Alviza, who was formerly based on the Galveston Campus. 

With the help of UTMB’s Human Resources department, several job fairs and hiring events were held to recruit the qualified professionals needed to staff various teams at the new location. 

As of March 30, more than 400 positions were filled to get the facility open; however, it’s important to note that the Clear Lake Campus is currently only utilizing 87 of its potential 191 beds during the first few months of operation. When service offerings eventually expand, so will the on-site workforce. 

To instill cohesion across the organization, many of the new hires for the Clear Lake Campus, including Alviza’s team, underwent initial training on the Galveston Campus. 

“All of our nurses here on-boarded on the Galveston Campus, to ensure consistency in policies, procedures and workplace culture,” said Alviza. 

Annette Macias-Hoag, vice president for health system and service line operations, reiterates how critical such training and collaboration is to continuing the UTMB standard of care. 

“Providing the right training ensures we can deliver safe and efficient care to every patient, every time,” said Macias-Hoag. “New managers like Gerard Wilson, Bethany Hoover, Christine Sedgwick and Amy Eason collaborated with established UTMB Health System managers to ensure they were familiar with UTMB’s processes, supplies and equipment while training as new employees.” 

Filling a void left by the sudden closure of the Bay Area Regional Medical Center, UTMB’s new Clear Lake Campus Hospital is a welcome addition to the Bay Area community. 

At a March 20 ribbon-cutting event that featured representatives from seven area chambers of commerce, hundreds of members of the local community turned out to get a sneak peek at the facility. The crowd was abuzz with excitement as UTMB and local and state leaders spoke about the hospital and what it means for the region. 

“That’s the ultimate goal of this whole facility,” said Alviza. “To serve this community again.” 

Recognizing what an all-hands-on-deck effort this has been for everyone involved, Lambrecht had one message to share with the UTMB community—thank you. 

“We really want to express our gratitude for the many, many people all over UTMB, as well as our community partners, who have helped us along the way,” she said. “They have been so vital in getting this facility ready and open for the patients we serve.”