Kyle Hardie – Indiana University Health
Municipal zoning questions about construction projects rarely make for exciting conversations, even as they determine what will be built and where.
Kyle Hardie’s work as director of design and construction for Indiana University Health involves zoning, but it’s often the spatial zoning—what’s inside those facilities—that occupy him, particularly as he assists the system enter a new era of providing health care statewide.
Case in point is the IU Health Bloomington project, nearing completion. Here, Hardie is ensuring the clinical workflow and model are supported by the interior room layouts and infrastructure, even as COVID-19 continues to bear down.
“We can make Indiana one of the healthiest states,” he vows. “It’s about the best care design. We have the ability to build an environment that improves our health outcomes. As we invest in our facilities, it’s not necessarily the half-billion-dollar investment—it can be the $3 million investment in the outlying communities.”
IU Health is the largest healthcare network in the state, Hardie says, with more than 200 locations and more than 1,500 physicians. While pointing out the system is its own entity, he notes it also partners with Indiana University to conduct research and train medical and nursing students.
To create a stronger rural outreach, Hardie guided the construction of the $3.6 million, 8,000-square-foot IU Health Paoli Family and Internal Medicine clinic on the campus of IU Health Paoli Hospital. It’s the first rural health clinic in the IU Health network and has 13 exam rooms, two physicians and two nurse practitioners.
Hardie says IU Health is also investing in imaging technology at its hospitals and outpatient facilities in Bedford and Martinsville, but its most ambitious project is the replacement and transformation at IU Health Bloomington.
It’s here where a $557 million facility on the new Indiana University Regional Academic Health Center campus has been under construction since 2018. Slated to open in late 2021, the 700,000-square-foot hospital and academic health science building for Indiana University will have private inpatient rooms.
There’s also a dedicated trauma center, outpatient services with diagnostic capabilities and specialty care, a women’s center with obstetrics and a neonatal intensive care nursery, as well as emergency care services.
“We’re taking the right steps towards becoming an overall healthier state by delivering the best health care in non-traditional ways,” Hardie explains. “We’re providing access to remote areas of the state, as well as to urban areas where they don’t have immediate care. How to look at health care differently starts with the front door approach for accessibility.”
How it all fits
Hardie was familiar with IU Health’s expansion efforts when he joined the system in March 2019. As a senior project manager for an Indianapolis-based healthcare architecture firm, he’d already helped design a new IU Health oncology center.
Asked to take over the IU Health Bloomington project, Hardie says his first challenge was to ensure his team had all the support necessary to manage the project, while remaining flexible as technology evolved. In 2020, his challenge was to keep construction going during the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the scheduled completion date.
At the peak of construction, nurses checked the temperatures of 600 on-site workers each day. Those workers also signed affidavits saying they were symptom-free; and everyone wore masks provided by IU Health.
Though the pandemic also forced the closure of lunch and break rooms, and each workday was punctuated by a 30-minute break for meals eaten at the jobsite, Hardie says moving ahead was beneficial for everyone.
“Progressing on the construction still provides a quality of life and allows construction team members to provide for their families,” he says. “Still, we don’t want our construction workers to be our patients.”
At IU Health Bloomington, workers were creating a new type of patient room. These single occupancy rooms better protect patients from potential infections, and the new tech inside them at IU Health Bloomington will allow providers to show patients and families intricate details and images of the medical issues they’re facing.
At the same time, IU Health Bloomington rooms are designed to minimize clutter from machines, while still allowing providers access to the equipment and visitors plenty of space, Hardie notes.
“Twenty years ago, we were still talking about hard film and traditional X-ray light boxes,” Hardie says. “Now we talk about wireless tech and how we get an image to a doctor’s device or on a TV screen in the room.”
The strong wireless network at IU Health Bloomington is also crucial to its emerging telehealth, as providers can consult with those in outlying offices and facilities, while patients can remain closer to home instead of traveling to specialists.
While IU Health is concerned first with providing what it calls “the best care, designed for you,” its designs also need to show the IU Health brand, Hardie notes. That may be reflected, even subtly, in the aesthetics and composition of building materials, such as the combination of limestone IU uses in its buildings and the brick IU Health uses in new construction.
A native Hoosier who grew up in Kokomo, Hardie earned a professional bachelor’s degree in architecture from Ball State University in 2005.
“There’s no greater opportunity in the architecture field than in health care,” he says, and he immediately pursued those opportunities after graduation. While working with a variety of clients in the field, Hardie moved into the project management and client relationship role.
The opportunities are intricate and complex, he says. Within the hospital are seven flows of health care, encompassing patients, providers and nurses, medication, supplies, information, equipment and infrastructure.
While the technology and use of space are vastly different from other construction, Hardie adds it’s what’s behind the walls and above the ceilings that can be especially challenging. This is because hospitals require a lot of power with redundant systems to protect from power loss or blackouts, and medical gases for normal care or anesthesia.
“The most challenging and rewarding aspect is that we’re able to fine- tune and right-size all the must-have programs and technologies within the original financial model and schedule,” he points out. “It’s crucial, but it should not limit the best care.”
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