New Billion-Dollar Parkland Memorial Hospital Opens in Dallas

Imagine moving more than 600 people — some in wheelchairs or attached to IV poles — into a new building. That’s exactly what’s happened this week at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.


By Lauren SilvermanAugust 21, 2015 7:42 pm

After nearly five years of construction, the new $1.3 billion dollar Parkland Hospital is finally opening. Fred Cerise is CEO of Parkland, which is one of the busiest public hospitals in the country. He joins us in the Standard studio to talk about the move from the old facility to the new.

On the plan to move more than 600 patients:

“The bridge connects the old Parkland hospital to the new hospital which makes for a much more safe and efficient mode of transportation because we don’t have to put people in ambulances or people have to go outside into the elements. According to a very precise set schedule we’ve got units in the old place that will get geared up to move. Then, with a lot of radio communication back and forth, we’ll launch people in a precise order with precise timing. We estimated it would be about one patient every four minutes…. Yesterday we were more efficient than we even planned. We moved one patient about every 1.7 minutes.”

On how they beat expectations:

“[In] some of the more stable units, like the postpartum unit where people are moving in wheelchairs, we might line up a few people in a row and go in rapid succession. The more complicated units like in intensive care, as you can imagine, those have more space and more equipment and are moving in beds. It varies by unit.”

On the risks and challenges they prepared for:

“The biggest thing that we are always concerned about is the safety of the patients…. That’s a concern when you’re moving critically ill patients even within a hospital. You move a patient from a unit to radiology. You’ve got to move ventilators and IV poles so you’re always concerned. We planned for supervision across the bridge, depending on the level of need, so we had doctors and nurses with the more sick patients. We had stations along the bridge that if people needed medical assistance during transit we would have the equipment we needed to take care of people. Fortunately, we haven’t had any of those issues and people have moved smoothly from one side to the other.”

On the new Parkland Hospital building:

“The biggest difference is space to operate. It was a long day for everybody. You could see patients who were tired and moving across the bridge. Then they got into their new rooms and they just lit up! They were texting and calling and talking about their new surroundings. [There are] communication devices on the TV where they can get educational material and call their nurse, and it’s all individualized. From a healthcare perspective it’s better for infection control.”

On the original Parkland built in 1894:

“I hope that this will be my last move. You’re right, there is some symmetry there about every 60 years [a new hospital is built]. I was looking at some old clippings of the original building in 1894. At the dedication ceremony someone delivered a speech about how nice the facility was going to be. It was the result of a $40,000 bond issue. They talked about ‘Patients are going to want to be sick because they’re going to want to be in that hospital.’ We don’t think we’re going to create demand here but we think we’re going to be able to do a great job of taking care of all of Dallas’ citizens who need healthcare on the inpatient side.”