Originally built as an urban public hospital, Tampa General Hospital, not unlike a majority of other hospitals, suffered from a limited site and increased patient volumes during its early years. New administration recognized the need for growth. One of the most challenging architecture and planning issues was an extremely limited footprint on Davis Islands. The Bayshore Pavilion occupies the last unbuilt area on campus between the existing building, access bridge to the island and the seawall.
Of main concern—and often an afterthought in hospital design—were disaster planning issues, addressed early in the project by a Multi-disciplinary Steering Team* including GS&P principal/project manager and architect Bob Berry, AIA, NCARB, and project designer/architect Jim Kolb, AIA. Taking guidance from Project ER One, the federally funded initiative to develop all-risks-ready emergency care facilities, the team incorporated emergency preparedness for medical, natural and man-made disasters. Special attention was paid to the hospital’s position as the only level 1 trauma center in west-central Florida, as well as its physical location on an island vulnerable to the effects of hurricanes.
Since all critical functions of a hospital must be above the 100-year flood plain and Saffir-Simpson storm surge level, the new emergency department was located on the second level above dedicated emergency parking. Access to the facility employs a high-volume, airport-style traffic scheme to ease maneuvering and assist traffic flow. If a mass casualty event causes a large influx of patients, the understory can function as the initial arrival point for triage and mass decontamination (up to 200 patients/hour) which can be accommodated with provisions already in place for shower enclosures with quick-connect tempered water for showers.
During planning and design, several hurricanes battered Florida and the Gulf Coast, and were unfortunate reminders of the potential threat to Tampa Bay. Tampa General, originally designed to withstand code-required 120 mile-per-hour winds, increased the strength of the structural frame to withstand hurricane gusts of up to 140 miles per hour. With nearly 900 beds, TGH decided to “defend in place,” eliminating the danger of trying to evacuate large numbers of high-acuity patients while allowing service to additional patients after a hurricane.
The emergency department layout consists of six 10-room pods, one of which is designed with all isolation rooms capable of handling a SARS-like event. All of the 60 emergency department exam/treatment rooms are similar in size and services. Each is designed as a private room but can accommodate two patients in a surge event.
The pods are also designed to emphasize a healing, calming environment for patients. For instance, the emergency department’s pediatrics pod is designed with a nautical theme related to the island. Soothing colors and oceanic elements are provided throughout, from undulating soffits above to tide-like flooring patterns below. The nurses’ station resembles a fanciful boat, with brightly colored flags and waterlines painted on its hull, all designed to help ease anxiety and promote effective care.
Berry takes great pride in the team’s efforts, especially its impact on the region’s ability to respond to crisis. “As architects and planners, we seldom hope certain aspects of a hospital design won’t be put to the test. But as a resident of Tampa, I’m honored to know that our work has a direct and positive impact on the ability to save lives in time of disaster.”
*The group, a Multidisciplinary Steering Team (MDST), included representatives of several GS&P offices, the hospital’s Emergency Medical team, trauma surgeons, radiologists, EMT, ED nursing, security, aero-medical programs, social services, law enforcement and EMS partners and other medical disciplines and related services.