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Canton’s Aultman Hospital was first opened in 1892. In the 116 years since then, Aultman Health Foundation has grown to become an important part of the community. It has 682 beds, 530 physicians offering no less than 43 different medical specialties, and employs a total of more than 5,000 staff members. That makes it both the largest hospital in Stark County and the county’s largest employer. Everyone knows that medical technologies advance at almost breathtaking speed; diseases and conditions that could kill just a few years ago now respond to oncegroundbreaking treatments that have become routine. But health services aren’t measured just in successful therapies; the infrastructure, the fabric of the buildings themselves, are key elements. Aultman Health Foundation (AHF) is investing millions of dollars in a comprehensive strategy of repair and renewal that is almost a rebirth of a longstanding institution. “We’re investing $7.2 million in our hospice and $7 million in our ICU [intensive care unit] facilities over the next five years,” says Ed Friedl, vice president, engineering and construction, for AHF. It’s also investing $2 million in replacing the hospital’s fire alarm system, which seems a lot of money. “We have well over a million square feet of building, so replacing the system is a complex operation. We have sensors in the wards, rooms and nurses stations, but the system has become antiquated and is in need of replacing. It’s time for a full overhaul.” When Friedl came to AHF in 1998, there was a lot to be done. Healthcare is expensive; there are always competing priorities for budgets that aren’t infinite. “The philosophy used to be: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The infrastructure is now in dire need of attention and would have become a problem very soon. The management now has a new attitude to maintenance and renewal,” says Friedl. The overall strategy, formulated in 1999 and named “Aultman 2010,” covers comprehensive refurbishment and the construction of new facilities, including a 321,000-square-foot Emergency & Trauma Department, Heart Center and Birth Center. Replacement of a number of air handling units will cost $5 million. The $100 million investment in the ER, heart center and birth facility covers four stories, has delivered 124 new beds and, when it was completed in 2006, won the Distinguished Design Award from the Akron Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It’s not just a pretty face. The local population is not only increasing, it’s aging, with the proportion coming under the aegis of Medicare coverage forecast to double by around 2030. The new facility was designed and constructed with future needs in mind—and it helped immediate requirements as well by releasing 100 beds elsewhere in the hospital. If you’re in need of immediate help in the Canton area, then it will be reassuring to learn that the new ER has the capacity to deal with the demands of today and the future. It was certainly needed; the old ER was handling 70,000 visits a year in a facility designed for 45,000 annually. Construction management was by Hammond Construction, of Canton; the local connection is important to AHF. “We like to work with people we know, with companies who do business with us already— through our insurance company, for example,” says Friedl. “We’re a not-for-profit, community- “The infrastructure is now in dire need of attention and would have become a problem very soon. The management now has a new attitude to maintenance and renewal” 92 May 08

satisfaction of the customers—those who will be using the facility,” he says. That the new building was completed three months early and came in signifi cantly under budget—quite a remarkable “double”—is testament to successful mediation. “Everyone, from the physicians and staff through to our managers and contractors, is very motivated to achieve the goals of Aultman 2010. Using local people helps; they’re building a community resource. We play our part in building relationships by treating them fairly and with respect. We pay our bills on time, for example; that makes people want to work for us.” If bills are paid quickly, then suppliers don’t have to factor fi nancing into the equation; cost advantages then benefi t everyone. “If we just save one or two percent of costs on a project this size, it adds up to a lot of money. It’s a win-win situation for the hospital, our contractors, the community and our patients.” May 08 93 based hospital, so we hire from Canton as best we can. We have a competitive local market, so we know we get value for money, and the Stark County resources can handle pretty much everything. One exception was the 21,000 cubic yards of concrete needed for the new building; a Cleveland contractor was brought in for that particular operation.” The project management was undertaken by Hammond Construction, Friedl and his team, and one of its most challenging tasks was to ensure that everyone involved worked together—not easy when you’re dealing with more than 5,000 people and up to 39 departments, and many of whom are doctors under life-and-death pressure in their everyday work. “Demarcation issues are inevitable. Part of my job is to be the mediator, to ensure that everyone communicates effectively and the job is fully completed on time, to budget, and to the AultmanHealthFoundation