Oct 29, 2021 - News
Penn Medicine's $1.6 billion hospital opens its doors
A view of Penn Medicine’s Pavilion in West Philadelphia.
A view of Penn Medicine's Pavilion, which opens to patients on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Dan Schwalm/Penn Medicine

Beyond the tech: Penn Medicine's $1.6 billion hospital has arrived.

What's happening: The Pavilion at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) will open its new emergency department on Saturday.

  • Nearly 400 HUP patients will be transferred to the 1.5 million-square-foot building.

Why it matters: The Pavilion is one of the largest hospital projects in the U.S.

Details: The 17-story building will house HUP's cardiology, oncology, neurology and neurosurgery units, as well as 504 patient rooms and 47 operating rooms.

  • Fun fact: The building has nearly as much available space as the 60-story Comcast Technology Center, the city's largest building, said Kevin Mahoney, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

What they're saying: The Pavilion is "100% built around the patient today and the patient in the future," Mahoney told Axios during a walk-through of the new building this week.

  • "The patient's now in control of their room — they control the temperature, they control the shades, they control the lighting," he added.
A 75-inch television hangs on a wall in a patient room inside the Pavilion, which serves  as the hub for the IRIS system.
A 75-inch television in every patient room serves as the hub for the IRIS system at the Pavilion. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

How it works: IRIS — an interactive care system — is placed in each patient room. The technology's hub is based on a 75-inch television that goes well beyond offering daytime soap operas.

  • Patients use a remote control or tablet to control their room's features.
  • The monitor will show patients their schedules, care team bios and even notify them about each staff member who enters their room. Hospital staff can project information like MRIs on the screen as well.

Between the lines: The patient rooms are designed to keep patients in their rooms as long as possible, said Dr. Frances Jensen, chair of Penn Medicine's Department of Neurology.

  • "The rooms are flexible. That means the patient doesn't have to be carted off into another strange place for another three days. ... We try to keep them in the same environment," Jensen said.

Of note: You won't see the typical equipment and operations strewn across the building's hallways, noted Dr. Daniel Yoshor, who heads Penn Medicine's Department of Neurosurgery. Those things are located elsewhere.

  • "There's a clear division between the back of the house and the front of the house. This is something hotels have done very well for years but hospitals have done very poorly," he said.

Beyond the tech: When asked how the Pavilion will help low-income residents and those in poverty, Mahoney said the hospital is taking steps to improve health care access in West Philadelphia. He also noted that it never turns anyone away.

  • "We are the community hospital of West Philadelphia," he said.
A patient room inside Penn Medicine’s Pavilion.
A patient room inside Penn Medicine's Pavilion. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios
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