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Take A Tour Of The New Parkland: It's High-Tech And Disney-Inspired

The new Parkland Hospital in Dallas opens in August.  The $1.3 billion complex promises high-tech care inspired in part by Disney.

The on stage-off stage Disney philosophy at the new Parkland puts the sometimes noisy business of medical care behind the scenes -- along separate, parallel corridors and offices on each floor – away from patient rooms.

The idea borrowed from Disney creates calm and quiet hospital hallways.  No more clickety-clack of large hospital food trays or linen baskets. Hospital staff will also take separate elevators. There are 48 in the new Parkland, including two so-called megavators.

New Parkland construction chief Lou Saksen says they are larger and reserved for air-lifted patients.

“They’ll come down these elevators from the 18th  floor walk out here and go right over there to the trauma rooms. It’s 32 seconds from the 18th floor to this floor," Saksen says. "So this is a major improvement."

Saksen says the helicopter can’t even land on the roof of the current Parkland across the street.  The new Parkland also has 18 ambulance bays. The old Parkland only has six. 

In the trauma center at the new county hospital, there are new resuscitation rooms with X-ray machines, blood supply and surgical capability already in each room. The entire Emergency Department will be four times bigger -- from 25,000 square feet to 120,000. That includes private rooms for ER patients.

Nurse Lily Solis says there’s now room to allow families to stay with the patient. She expects wait times in the ER to be cut in half.

“Just the fact that we have the space for a patient to be seen without having to wait for another patient to come up with a bed and things like that, I think that will make a huge difference,” Solis says.

IT manager Joe Longo calls the new Parkland a digital hospital – totally wireless and integrated.  A one-of-a-kind, super-sized flat screen in each room can pull up medical records, show X-rays, allow patients to check email, order meals and watch TV.

Judy Herrington, vice president of nursing, says all of the new rooms at the hospital are all private rooms.

"Which is a huge improvement from our old facility where we had a lot of semi-private rooms," Herrington says. "These rooms are about 40 percent bigger than our old Parkland rooms.”

And all of them have a view of downtown.

The 27 operating rooms are double in size and have touchscreen controls for surgeons to adjust lighting, multiple cameras and high-definition screens.

Last year there were 10,000 births at Parkland. Dr. Brian Casey says new high-tech labor and delivery rooms will keep mom, baby and family together – no more waiting in the hallway for a delivery room.

“Given the expansion from the 30 labor rooms that we currently have to the now 44 labor and delivery rooms, we anticipate there will be no cause for women to labor in the halls anymore,” Casey says.

Dallas County sold bonds to pay for about 75 percent of the new Parkland, savings and private donations fill in the gap. Taxpayers approved the bonds in 2008 – agreeing to add about three cents to the hospital district tax rate.

Saksen says it’ll be worth it.   

“We actually are going to end up with an increase in patients," Saksen says. "Not only [for] those [who use Parkland] as the hospital of last resort. I think it can become the hospital of first choice."

The first patients – an estimated 600 – are expected to move across the street to the New Parkland, via an air-conditioned skybridge, in August. 

Downtown Dallas goes purple

Some downtown Dallas buildings will be lit up in purple Sunday night, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Open House April 11

Explore the new Parkland hospital at an open house from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, April 11. You'll get behind-the-scenes tours of patient rooms, the labor and delivery area, and the emergency room. Learn more here.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.