Park Jin-sik박진식, the CEO of Mediplex Sejong Hospital, had always dreamed of building a groundbreaking medical institution that could break through the increasingly tough situations facing the domestic small- and medium-sized hospitals.
Park, thinking specialization alone would not suffice, set his sight on a hospital, which designs all systems in patient-oriented ways and joins hands with various special hospitals in the nation to transplant various, specialized treatment centers in one space.
Mediplex Sejong Hospital메디플렉스 세종병원, located in Geyang-gu, Incheon, is the very place that synthesized all of Park’s dreams.
Mediplex Sejong, which opened this past March, attracted great attention from the medical community, for having changed the concept of the existing small- and medium-sized hospitals with the aim of providing best healthcare services for patients.
Particularly it did not stop at turning all treatment departs into independent centers but moved forward to introduce the medical systems of other special hospitals, including Hangil Eye Hospital and Seoul Women’s Hospital, and transform them into in-house centers, differentiating the hospital from all other midsize institutions.
Moreover, the medical institution did its best to minimize hospital-acquired infection by, for instance, dividing clean zones from contaminated zones clearly and differentiating the flow of human traffic between inpatients and outpatients.
In another game-changing scheme, the hospital altered everything, from design to operation, and says all this is for enhancing the health of community rather than the treatment of individuals.
Korea Biomedical Review visited Mediplex Sejong in late May to look into the hospital’s every nook and cranny, on the occasion of the 100th day of its opening.
A community-friendly design from entrance
“Mediplex Sejong’s vision is to play a role in promoting the entire community’s health as part of its infrastructure, rather than treating individual patients,” said Park Chan-shik, CEO of Space DBM which designed the hospital, while commenting on the philosophy behind its design. “In designing the hospital, too, we sought to connect the facility to the community surrounding it.”
As such, the entrance to the Mediplex has a remarkable view of the surrounding park. Once entering the hospital, one comes across a spacious lobby decorated with art pieces.
|A view of the lobby seen from the hospital entrance|
A customer support center also greets patients, where the receptionist identifies and then directs them to the so-called specialty centers located on each floor. The hospital has designated 15 out of the 19 outpatient departments as specialty centers.
The interesting point is that the hospital’s lobbies and corridors on each floor are relatively empty. “It’s not because we don’t have patients,” a hospital official stated. “It’s because patients do not have to move through corridors or back to the lobby since everything is taken care of in each center.”
Case-in-point: patients pay for their treatment at stations, manned by nurses, located inside the specialty center. However, patients should pay only with cards here; in the case of cash payments, they must go back to the customer support center on the first floor.
|The hospital’s specialty center: because nurses also take care of payments, patients can receive a complete one-stop service, from treatment to payment, within the center.|
Because the service and floor design minimize patient movement, the hospital looks empty and quiet.
‘Separation’ as Mediplex’s philosophy:
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome hit Korea when Mediplex Sejong was under construction in 2015, exerting a crucial influence on its design, a hospital official said.
Affected by this, Mediplex has a total of 13 negative pressure isolation rooms at the cost of 400 million won ($356,180) each. The hospital accounts for half of the total 26 such rooms in the whole city.
Each examination room is located near elevators used by inpatients. This decreases the possibility of the inpatients contacting outpatients when the former needs testing.
Another hospital official explained that it was the best decision they could make, considering that operating two separate examination rooms for outpatients and inpatients was not realistically feasible.
A facility for visitors is also stationed in front of the elevator to stop the spread of infectious diseases.
Designating distinct patient routes is another method employed at Mediplex.
For example, nurses classify patients based on the type of illness at the “patient classification room” located in the emergency room. The patients who have fevers or other infectious diseases then take a different pathway that leads into the appropriate room inside the emergency room. The hospital also provides a negative pressure isolation room and cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation room for these patients.
An endoscopy room with clear entrance and exit
Another room that encompasses the “separation” philosophy is the endoscopy room.
The hospital contains a total of six examination centers in the endoscopy room; on one side lies the “clean zone,” on the other side is the “infectious zone” while the “washing room” remains at the end.
|The endoscopy room is divided into the “clean zone” and “infectious zone”. At the end is the “washing room.”|
The endoscope is first cleaned in the washing room and then enters the clean zone where doctors conduct the examination. The endoscope then passes through the infectious zone to go back to the washing room. The system ensures that washed and used endoscopes do not move through the same path.
Patient’s routes are similarly designated to reduce possible risks.
Complete nursing care services
Mediplex also deems its optimized wards with high-quality nursing care services as a source of pride.
All of Mediplex’s hospital wards are composed of four beds linked to nursing stations placed outside the ward. Nurses can observe and check the patients through glass windows.
|Each ward at Mediplex has four beds. A nursing station is placed in between two wards.|
Because two nurses operate each station, one nurse takes care of four patients and checks all patient information from it.
A central nursing station also exists at the center of each floor where the head nurse monitors and controls staff.
Opaque plastic dividers are placed in between each bed, doing away with the curtains usually found in other hospitals. These dividers fulfill the role of controlling infectious diseases while protecting the patient’s personal space.
Administrative rooms are located on floors 1 to 7 while levels 8 to 11 are all hospital wards. One may ask why the lower levels are all designated as executive rooms since the hospital has a relatively fewer (326 rooms) and smaller (four-person ward) hospital wards.
Regarding this, Park says, “The space within the hospital may have to change depending on changing times. Although it's hard to change rooms designated for surgery, for example, it is easy to change office spaces. In this way, we can use these places when needed.”
Cutting-edge technology for patient convenience
Mediplex also boasts cutting-edge technology. The most eye-catching piece of equipment is inside the intensive care unit’s monitoring room. In this control room, faculty members may monitor not only patients within Mediplex but also intensive care patients in its sister hospital (also called Sejong Hospital) located in the city of Bucheon nearby Incheon.
A team of doctors and nurses always reside in the monitoring room and take measures to treat intensive care patients when needed, moving them to the appropriate ward in emergency situations while also calling the sister hospital to update faculty.
|The view of the monitoring system inside Multiplex Sejong Hospital’s intensive care unit.|
Doctors can perform live surgeries at the auditorium located in the basement connected to the surgery room. The hospital intends to operate various programs with outside professionals from different specialty hospitals such as Hangil Eye Hospital and Seoul Women’s Hospital in this auditorium.
If Park’s attempt is successful, medium-sized hospitals will give a whole new look in a few years – and remain there for good.
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