UTMB Accelerates Activation of New Patient Tower in Response to COVID-19

Abby Lauck
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) League City Campus was in the middle of a major expansion and activation of its new South Tower.

Scheduled to open in May 2020, the new tower connects directly to the League City Hospital and includes a medical-surgical unit; intensive care unit; sterile processing department; laboratory and blood bank; a pharmacy; a new café and dietary services offices; and many other support service departments throughout all floors in the new building. 

For the past two years, our team has been leading the transition, occupancy, relocation and activation services of existing UTMB facilities in League City and on Galveston Island to the new locations. Before COVID-19, we were on the fast track, accelerating activation activities to meet the client’s request to open a week early. One month after this request, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Texas and the healthcare world had to redirect attention.

Readiness became our top priority: a possible surge of critically ill patients in a short amount of time. Our fast track got faster with UTMB needing activation of their South Tower to occur in just a few short weeks. In a matter of days, we coordinated the delivery and installation of numerous shipments of equipment with multiple vendors to prepare for an anticipated surge.

With multiple activities onsite and the pandemic in full force, safety became our focus, adjusting how we functioned on campus to protect not only the patients and visitors but also ourselves. Our team adopted UTMB’s protocols, including face mask protection and screening our team members prior to them entering the building. Also, all face-to-face meetings transitioned to teleconferencing.

We coordinated and facilitated building and life safety orientations, which is required of all staff before they can operate in their new space. The orientations give a brief explanation that covers all the life safety measures in the new building. The orientations are followed by a walking tour of the new space. Due to CDC guidelines of limiting group gatherings to ten people or less, the tours were replaced by maps and distributed via email. Our team continues to lead the distribution and coordination of the building and life safety orientation material for UTMB staff so they can move into their new spaces sooner.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many hardships in the world, especially in the healthcare industry. Our team will continue uninterrupted support to UTMB for weeks to come to assure a successful transition and to help them prepare for worst-case scenarios.

Our UTMB activation services include:

  • Supporting relocations from existing facilities into new locations
  • Tracking, receiving and installing new equipment
  • Warehouse management of equipment
  • Clinical transition planning
  • Building and life safety orientations