Hixson-Lied Center for Clinical Excellence is unveiled

Grand opening info

UNMC's hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, will have a grand opening of the new Center for Clinical Excellence today. The outdoor dedication is at 10:30 a.m. on the west end of the new emergency room (if inside the building, enter off the main connector corridor). Employee self-guided tours are from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Center for Clinical Excellence, located between Clarkson and University Towers, houses the hospital's new emergency, radiology, neonatal intensive care and surgery departments. The public is invited to tour the facility on Sunday (Oct. 30) from 1 to 4 p.m.

In November 2002, The Nebraska Medical Center broke ground on a building. On Oct. 28, 2005, that building will unlock the future home for the largest emergency department in the Midwest, more than 25 state-of-the-art operating rooms, radiology equipment that can scan the body in 10 seconds and a Newborn Intensive Care Unit designed around the tiniest patients.

The Hixson-Lied Center for Clinical Excellence is more than a building - it is a place where miracles will happen and lives will be touched. It is, as one physician described, "the exclamation point" on the 1997 merger that created The Nebraska Medical Center.

"The innovation, hard work and detail that went into this building are astounding," said Glenn Fosdick, president and CEO of The Nebraska Medical Center. "It not only holds the future of medicine - it holds the heart of one extraordinary hospital and the people who will work here."

The four-story, $56.5 million building will house the largest emergency department between Chicago and Denver; a Newborn Intensive Care Unit that is built around sick and premature newborns and their families; a radiology unit equipped with the latest technology; and operating rooms, each designed for minimally invasive procedures and open surgeries, like liver transplantation.

Embracing it all is a name that has stood for generosity and community - Hixson-Lied. "A primary interest of Mr. Lied during his lifetime was the city of Omaha and the University of Nebraska," said Christina M. Hixson of the Lied Foundation Trust. "The Lied Foundation Trust has carried forward his dream of making positive contributions, and this project supporting clinical care will serve everyone well.

"The Center for Clinical Excellence will enhance the delivery of clinical care just as The Lied Transplant Center has done in providing cutting-edge health care. The Transplant Center has exceeded everyone's expectations, and the Clinical Center will do so as it brings together the best minds and finest health care facilities."

Said UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D.: "We anticipated that the merger of University Hospital and Clarkson Hospital in 1997 to form The Nebraska Medical Center would lead to a world-class institution providing cutting-edge health care to the citizens of Nebraska and beyond. We are achieving that goal. The best is yet to come from this merger."

This 165,000-square-foot building stands as a tribute to those who put their hearts, as well as their muscle, into its creation. "Every day, in some way, we were reminded of the need to build a facility that has a perfect, if possible, infrastructure and serves the ultimate need of the clinicians who will call it home for the next 20 years," said John Lehning, director of Facilities at The Nebraska Medical Center.

Lehning describes the construction project as one of the most complicated and delicate that he's ever been associated with.

"Because of its proximity to two functioning hospitals (actually sharing common walls), being built over a vacated road (Dewey Street) and being a very intense clinical environment with minimal administrative space -- it is by far the most complex job I have ever been involved with -- and I have done some awesome projects," Lehning said.

For Lehning and the crew of more than 650 tradesmen, the reward of this job is knowing their hard work will help, enhance and even save the lives of others.

"When patients come into the emergency department they are typically anxious, hurt or very ill - they just want our help," said Suzanne Watson, clinical manager of the emergency department.

The new emergency department, scheduled to open Nov. 10, will help patients get the help they need more quickly and efficiently. With 33 rooms, bedside patient registration and valet parking, patients will get in and out of the emergency department faster.

Spread across two floors, the radiology department also will streamline the patient experience by offering most of its services in one place. New, state-of-the-art radiology equipment can capture images of a heart in just five heartbeats and scan the whole body in about 10 seconds.

The operating rooms, the first of which will open in January, will be larger and each will be outfitted with the OR-1 technology and the equipment needed to do minimally invasive procedures or large open surgeries like organ transplantation.

Sitting atop the Hixson-Lied Center for Clinical Excellence is a place made just for premature infants and sick newborns. The Newborn Intensive Care Unit, which plans to open to families on Nov. 16, features 34 private suites where baby and family can bond in privacy and medical peace-of-mind.

Just next door to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit is an oasis in the middle of a hospital. The Rooftop Garden is a place where families and patients can go to escape the medical world and regroup, relax or rejuvenate.

"Each part of this building - each hallway, each exam room, each OR was designed with our patients in mind," Fosdick said. "This building is for them and for the hundreds of health care providers who will call this building - 'home.' "