From vacant to an ‘innovation’

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Willis-Knighton has turned the unused old Bossier Medical Center into its new Innovation Center for training and more

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the once vacant hospital on Airline Drive has been given new life.

The building at 2105 Airline Drive is best known as the long-time location of the former city hospital, Bossier Medical Center. However, the Willis-Knighton Health System spent the last year and a half renovating the 200,000-square-foot space into a one of a kind innovation center.

Willis-Knighton executives sought to renovate the building in a way that would respect its healthcare history and offer it new life and purpose.

“We are excited that this once cherished facility can again be a great source of pride to the citizens of Bossier,” Riley Waddell, Assistant Administrator of Business Development for the Willis-Knighton Health System, said. “This was a great opportunity to take a landmark building and reinvigorate it.”

The WK Innovation Center will serve three major purposes. First, and what they consider most important, is the WK Virtual Hospital and Career Institute for continuing education.

The virtual hospital, complete with lifelike patient simulators, will be a training site for not only Willis-Knighton staff but local healthcare students. It is the first virtual hospital to be created in a setting that was once an intensive care unit and known to be one of the largest, private simulation centers in the nation, complete with 22 patient rooms, two operating suites, a large recovery area and a labor and delivery suite.

Denise Winiarski, Clinical Education Coordinator, said the extensive simulators provide real-life training situations in a controlled environment in order for students and clinicians to hone their medical skills.

“This is a virtual hospital, not a simulation lab,” Winiarski explained. “It looks and feels like an actual hospital, but we have the ability to still watch, listen and correct.”

She added that the benefits will ultimately provide a higher quality of care for all patients.

“We’re just getting started,” Winiarski said. “We hope to share our advanced training facility with other schools in the future. This is really just the beginning.”

Next is the Talbot Medical Museum. The museum opened in 2004 in celebration of Willis-Knighton’s 80th anniversary and is named in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Dudley Talbot.

One walk through the Talbot Medical Museum is like taking steps back into the early days of healthcare in northwest Louisiana. Originally opened on Willis-Knighton’s Greenwood Road campus, the museum was moved in order to expand its space to include large professional displays about the history of Willis-Knighton and medical care in the region.

Then there’s the Miciotto Assembly Center, named in honor of Dr. John Miciotto, a former Bossier OB-GYN who is said to have delivered more than 17,000 babies during his career. Along with a 150 seat auditorium, the center includes an executive board room, 15 seat theater, 80 seat banquet room, 65 seat classroom, two 15 seat conference rooms, a coffee bar and food court with full service kitchen.

The layout of the building has allowed Willis-Knighton to increase its meeting space for orientation and staff events. They also have future plans to contract with eligible nonprofit groups for use of the meeting areas.

Several Willis-Knighton Departments are relocating to the Innovation Center, including Career Institute, Community Education, Corporate Business Office and the Health Information Management Archives.

A grand opening is scheduled for Sunday, May 4, at 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Willis-Knighton executives and staff, including the WK Innovation Center administrator, Joshua Mason, will welcome the public during the event and offer tours.

Physicians and employees who worked at Bossier Medical Center will be honored guests at the event.

Ryan Smith, project manager and museum director, asked that if anyone is interested in donating items to the Talbot Medical Museum to please call (318) 212-4404.