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HGA and Boldt Complete St. John’s Hospital Observation Unit, the First Minnesota Health Care Facility Built Offsite

MAPLEWOOD, MN — Interdisciplinary design firm, HGA, and construction firm, The Boldt Company, teamed together in the delivery of a 16-bed observation unit at M Health Fairview’s St. John’s Hospital.

Since 2022, St. John’s Hospital had experienced a 5 percent rise in inpatient visits and a 12 percent increase in emergency department visits, according to M Health Fairview. To meet patient demand, they employed HGA and Boldt’s innovative design solution, STAAT MOD, a prefabricated modular building solution optimized to provide the specific type of space a health care facility requires, based on patient needs. Designed to offer additional space for patients in need of short-term observation, the new unit is an adaptable, flexible solution that can be repurposed as the hospital’s needs change.

The modular solution was designed using evidence-based research and industry best practices, accelerating the design process, and providing cost and schedule certainty. The purposefully designed environment is conducive to healing and observation with consideration for patient safety and staff efficiency. Rigorous quality checks are performed on the modular solutions, resulting in a third-party certified health care facility.

The unique delivery of the observation unit avoided conventional construction disruptions in the already strained emergency department. During construction, patient care at St. John’s Hospital continued uninterrupted until the final onsite installation of the new unit, which took place in just three days. Manufactured to 90 percent completion in Boldt’s facility in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the unit was transported after completion to the hospital campus, where the site and foundations had been prepared simultaneously. Construction was completed in half the duration of traditional construction. The new observation unit is the first health care facility in the state of Minnesota to be built almost entirely off site.

“In the face of escalating patient visits, our ED and inpatient medicine teams have been proactive and innovative in their response,” said Will Nicholson, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs for M Health Fairview St. John’s, Woodwinds, and Bethesda hospitals. “This approach is a game-changer. It allows us to rapidly develop the needed space without impeding current operations.”

With installation complete, the short-stay observation unit expands patient care services on the Maplewood campus, easing crowding and capacity constraints, an issue that continues to stress hospitals nationwide as the number of patients seeking care increases, and the ability to discharge them to more appropriate levels of care continues to challenge health systems.

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