Photo of the view from inside the seven-story glasscovered atrium

New Weinberg Building units meet increased demand for critical and post-surgical care

If you watch people enter the University of Maryland Medical Center's new Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, you will notice them looking up toward the sky. What catches the eye is a magnificent, seven-story, glass-covered atrium.

Inside the large atrium, bathed with natural light from the windows above, visitors on the first floor can see a fountain and two garden terraces filled with plants and trees on the third and fifth levels. Red oak panels and a red brick wall decorate sides of the massive atrium.

The view is not what most people expect in a hospital building, but it is compatible with the architectural theme of the adjacent Gudelsky Building's atrium (built in 1994) and the historic dome across the street on top of Davidge Hall, dating from 1812. The medical center's goal is to be a "hospitable" hospital that is comforting and cheerful, open and hopeful to patients and their families at a time of anxiety and stress.

The atrium, called the Morton and Rosalie Rapoport Atrium in honor of Dr. Mort Rapoport's ('60) more than 20 years of leadership at the hospital, gives visitors just a taste of the many special features of this new building. The atrium ties together an array of new, impressive, state-of-the-art patient care areas, including one of the country's most technologically advanced surgical facilities, an expansive diagnostic radiology department and a new, large and modern emergency department with separate sections for adult and pediatric patients. The building's top three floors will house surgical and medical ICUs and acute care units when construction is complete within the next two years.

"Everybody loves this new facility," says Roger W. Voigt, MD, assistant professor and head of the division of pediatric surgery who is also medical director of the medical center's operating rooms. "It's a huge plus for our patients, families and staff. Not only is it bright, clean and spacious, we have technical capabilities in the new ORs with video and imaging that have put us at the leading edge," adds Dr. Voigt, who was a leader in designing the new surgical facility.

Emergency Was First Section to Open

Photo of Harry and Jeanette Weinberg BuidingSections of the 380,000-square-foot Weinberg Building opened in phases, starting in the fall of 2002. The first was a spacious and cheerful new emergency department with 54 private exam rooms, the latest digital diagnostic equipment and large, comfortable waiting areas. Natural light streams into part of the waiting area through a two-story wall of windows that extends along Lombard Street.

The entrance to the new, 45,000 square foot emergency facility, in the 600 block of West Lombard Street, is adjacent to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. Now all of the medical center's emergency services are located together for the first time. The adult and pediatric emergency departments continue to have their own waiting, reception and treatment areas, in order to focus on the specific needs of adult and pediatric patients.

"The emergency department is the front door for many of our patients. Almost half of our admissions each year come through the ED," says Brian Browne, MD, head of emergency medicine at the medical center and professor of surgery at the medical school. "First impressions are important, and everyone is proud of this facility. The rooms are spacious and private, and family members can sit with patients without getting in anyone's way. Also, we have the most modern technology for improved diagnostic and clinical care, putting us ahead of the curve."

The facility has the latest digital radiological equipment, such as a 16-slice CT scan, ultrasound and X-ray. It has electronic order entry as well as computerized retrieval of medical records, a digital radiology (PAX) system and a rapid diagnostics laboratory. The ED also continues to offer a fast track area; so patients with less critical emergencies can be seen in a timely way.

"We have always provided excellent, comprehensive emergency care for more than 60,000 adults and children each year, and we now have very attractive, welcoming and comfortable facilities to complement that high quality care," adds Dr. Browne, who has worked in the hospital's adult emergency department for 19 years. The new facility also includes a dedicated psychiatric urgent care area.

"Our pediatric emergency department is designed for the individual needs of our patients, who range in age from newborns to teenagers," says Richard Lichenstein, MD, director of pediatric emergency medicine at the medical center and associate professor of pediatrics at the medical school.

"We are equipped with state-of-the-art monitoring, radiology and laboratory equipment and the exam rooms provide a cheerful, private and quiet environment," says Dr. Lichenstein. The pediatric emergency department also has a children's playroom staffed by child life specialists.

The medical center's emergency services are a statewide resource, providing access to every medical and surgical specialty and treating patients transported from throughout Maryland as well as from the surrounding Baltimore community. And Dr. Browne says the new facility's technology and additional space have opened the door to innovative clinical studies, such as collaboration with neurology to provide comprehensive assessment and treatment within 24 hours for patients with transient ischemic attacks (TIA).

Highlights of Maryland's Weinberg Building

The nation's most technologically advanced surgical facility:

  • 19 operating rooms and two dedicated procedure rooms that combine the most advanced video and IT equipment
  • Surgeons have patient information at their fingertips during surgery (lab results, medications, radiology images)
  • One OR room has MRI scanner to guide surgeons with real-time images during very delicate procedures
  • Special air handling system reduces risk of patient exposure to airborne impurities
  • Sophisticated telemedicine capabilities with live, two-way communication to promote education and training

A technologically advanced emergency department with pleasant environment for patients, their families and staff:

  • 54 private ER exam rooms (many with private bathrooms)
  • Latest digital diagnostic equipment (CT scan, ultrasound, x-ray)
  • Separate ER sections for adult and pediatric patients
  • Dedicated psychiatric urgent care area
  • Large, comfortable waiting areas in ER and throughout building

Other special features:

  • Magnificent sky-lit atrium
  • Large, landscaped "healing garden" waiting area for families while patients have surgery
  • Patient resource center with access to health information
  • Expanded diagnostic imaging department
  • New chapel
  • Learning center for employee education and conferences
  • Expansive cafeteria and separate food court
  • New inpatient units under construction:
    • 27-bed Medical ICU
    • 27-bed Cardiothoracic ICU and acute care unit
    • 30 bed surgical acute care unit (with 26 private beds)