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Heart & Vascular Hospital Marries High Tech and Hospitality

The Teams Within the Walls

After four years of substantive planning and construction, we gathered in June to celebrate the completion of the 160,000 square-foot Heart & Vascular Hospital, housed on four floors in MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s North Addition. The health care team, past patients, donors and guests shared this moment of great satisfaction, which comes with successfully transforming a blank schematic into a centerpiece for advanced cardiovascular care. But our pride in this accomplishment extends beyond the architectural form that follows the critical function of advanced cardiac care. Shaping an environment that evokes the feeling that this facility is a secure oasis for patients is as important. From the very beginning, we have focused on creating a hospital dedicated to our patients’ physical and emotional health.

Creating a Patient Oasis

We’ve taken our cue from the derivation of the word hospital, which shares its Latin root with the words hotel and hospitality—”hospes,” which means “to welcome someone in my house; to offer comfort and shelter.” In previous decades, health care may have lost sight of this notion—more focused on creating spaces centered on the health care professional rather than the patient.

Today we understand that the key to creating a healing environment is built around the safety and comfort of our patients. Our patients’ positive perception of their surroundings and of service delivery fosters healing and affects clinical outcomes—in contemporary health care, the patient experience takes center stage.

In the new Heart & Vascular Hospital we’ve integrated aspects of “hospitality” and “customer satisfaction” into hospital design and care protocols. Initiatives to improve communication; increase face-to-face interaction among staff, patients and families; reduce noise and wait times for tests; and create visually pleasing spaces have been critical components of our strategy.

We’ve also built greater efficiency into the delivery of services. Throughout the new facility, dedicated care teams are assigned to each patient around-the-clock, and work collaboratively with our cardiologists and vascular and cardiac surgeons to ensure continuity of diagnosis and treatment plans. The model of care helps to get patients in and out of the hospital quickly, both using their time more wisely while they’re hospitalized and preparing them for continued recovery once discharged.

Adding Value to a Community Resource

The opening of the Heart & Vascular Hospital is one important part of a comprehensive, long-term plan to refine and enhance MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute. Our network of cardiovascular care has been a valuable community resource for decades, and has evolved over time to keep pace with the needs of the region. It is a “living entity” built for flexibility and change. With each alteration of the system, we have added value with greater geographic reach, and more expertise, convenience and care options.

Among the most important “added value” has been our unique collaborative alliance with Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute. One component of this relationship is the direct-to-employer managed care network pioneered by Cleveland Clinic. We were the first of their allied organizations to become a part of this contracting network, and we anticipate providing cardiovascular services to a number of the region’s largest employers.

Investors & Partners

Preparing for the future of the region’s heart care is a complex task, which we can’t tackle alone. Throughout our history we have had the support of a visionary group of dedicated donors. This project and many others have depended on the spirit of philanthropy and the generosity of hundreds of donors.

Nancy and Harold Zirkin have been among the most generous. We’ve recognized their $10 million contribution by naming our new facility in their honor. My sincere thanks also go to James D. (J.D.) and Genevieve Murphy, the Howard and Sondra Bender family, the Thome Memorial Foundation, and Jerome and Deena Kaplan, whose significant gifts have helped us meet our ambitious capital campaign goal. We are so very grateful to them—and to all our donors large and small—for recognizing the wisdom of investing in our community’s heart health.

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On June 16, MedStar Washington Hospital Center dedicated the Nancy and Harold Zirkin Heart & Vascular Hospital.