Christina Grimes, AIA, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C, architect and senior project healthcare planner at Ballinger (Philadelphia)

WHO SHE IS: One of Grimes’ first clients at Ballinger—and one of her first projects in the healthcare sector—was Reading Health System, where she worked on a modernization project in 2006 for the hospital campus in West Reading, Pa. Over the next decade, she continued to partner with the organization on a variety of renovation projects. That experience came to be invaluable when Grimes was tapped to work directly with Reading Health’s senior leadership team to master plan the new 487,000-square-foot Reading Healthplex for Advanced Surgical + Patient Care, which opened in early 2017. When it was time to build, Grimes brought her deep understanding of the culture and community of the hospital from previous projects on the campus to the design team. For example, a decentralized storage model and clinical workspace concept that were tested in three previous inpatient bed floor renovations became influential building blocks in the new Healthplex bed tower.

YEAR IN REVIEW: To further ensure the design solutions developed were appropriate, Grimes created a questionnaire during the planning process, engaging 42 distinct user groups in 24 rounds of meetings for more than 10,000 staff hours of discussion on the design. Using the results, she associated design elements according to their priority rank across the multigenerational workforce to understand what features resonated with a particular group. At the time, 62 percent of the nursing staff was baby boomers, but this demographic was expected to shift with the growth of the millennial workforce. Grimes’ work helped ensure that the new building design met the needs of current staff as well as incoming workers. For example, while features such as welcoming staff lounges and access to natural light appealed to all generations, patient lifts in each patient room ranked high with the baby boomer staff. This knowledge led the administration to commit to a 100 percent patient-lift room model within the bed tower. Grimes also brought her evidence-based design knowledge to the table with the broader design team to further shape the project, delivering prominent handwashing stations, decentralized nurses’ and supply stations, family areas, daylighting, and views to nature (including an 88,000-square-foot green roof that covers the procedural platform). The fruits of these efforts were realized when the building opened in early 2017.

WHAT’S NEXT: Now that the Reading Healthplex is fully active, Grimes is developing a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) to study the effects of the decentralized supply stations and patient lifts, as well as work patterns of the staff, to see if the results vary from her initial planning study. She’s also busy working on an emergency room expansion and an ambulatory care center project and leading POEs on several other projects.