HSC Master Plan charts course of campus development for next 20 years
It is a common adage in business that Japanese companies, particularly those who create new technologies, are successful because their planning horizons can be as long as 100 years.
In health care, life sciences and academic medicine, we are seeing such rapid change that it is difficult to imagine what the field will look like in 20 years. But that's just what we are trying to do.
The University of Louisville Board of Trustees recently approved a 20-year master plan for the Health Sciences Center that tried to envision what our physical environment will look like and what our infrastructure needs will be over the course of two decades.
We have looked at dozens of variables, and changes in any of them will mean adjustments to the master plan and shifts in our strategies.
We may need to plan for a VA hospital downtown. We might need a new addition to University Hospital to give us the flexibility to renovate the present, aging, facility. We're building new research space, but what about classrooms for expanding programs?
In creating the master plan, we have considered all of these possibilities. But instead of letting these issues define the future of the Health Sciences Center, we have opted to give ourselves the flexibility to address them when and if the need arises.
What defines our future vision and the plan for our physical campus is the recognition that excellence takes planning and that long-term thinking is necessary to carry out our mission of creating the knowledge to heal by training the next cohort of health-care providers and educators, serving our communities and producing leading-edge research that will improve the practice of medicine for future generations
The 20-year campus master plan aspires to create an environment that facilitates all of these objectives.
As our campus changes, we need to put patients first - not just in our exam rooms, hospitals, offices and waiting rooms, but across all aspects of the patient experience.
This means that we will create a physical environment that is welcoming by creating more tangible campus boundaries, by making navigation easier both in cars and on foot, by prioritizing patient parking and by thinking about how we can make our urban environment more attractive to patients, families and visitors.
The master plan envisions elevated walkways, more accessible entrances, accommodations for patient pick-up and drop-off, and signs that help people find their destination and get there quickly.
The plan calls for distinct zones where we develop patient care, research and educational facilities in easy reach of one another.
The plan considers the needs for physical infrastructure including power grids, heating and cooling, information technology, water and other essential services that not only facilitate daily operations, but prepare us for any contingency as well as enabling the use of today's and tomorrow's technologies in the service of patients, students and researchers.
The plan aspires to make our campus welcoming, stimulating and comfortable for all those engaged in the educational enterprise.
The campus master plan envisions a central quadrangle that has grass and trees instead of concrete and steel, more places where students can gather and study in groups and more comfortable spaces.
The plan considers our need for classroom spaces, not just in terms of educating enough doctors, nurses, dentists, public health professionals and life scientists to meet the future needs of our communities, but also in terms of how technology is changing the way we teach and learn.
These are just a few illustrations of the philosophy that we have adopted in planning for the future: keep people and their needs central to academic health care; remember that we can not anticipate all the changes the future will bring (flexibility is key); and be confident that an unwavering focus on the basic functions of the Health Sciences Center will maintain the excellence we have built and take the University of Louisville to the next level.
Larry N. Cook, M.D., is executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Louisville and a professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine.