Tours, Tours, Tours

Tours are my life, right now anyway.  I am a building designer, working with architects and others to make my hospital’s dreams become reality.  As part of this, we’ve started touring people through the large addition that we’ve been working on for the past six years.  It’s been in design that long, although we didn’t break ground on it until September of 2008.  So, the work on the actual building of the structure has only been going on for three years.  Only three years.  That sounds funny, huh?

When you build a hospital, you build more than just a building.  You build something in which people will be healed, people will succumb to their illnesses, and people will work.  The typical office building doesn’t have the rules and regulations that a hospital facility has.  We have so many regulatory agencies I can’t even name them all.  We have to meet so many different codes, both life safety and general healthcare, that it takes a team to keep up with it all.  This, in my opinion anyway, is one reason that healthcare is so expensive.  Trust me, everyone wants the patients to be well taken care of and safe, but the competing regulatory agencies don’t always agree, so we have to work to find a happy medium sometimes, which is hard.

Part of the process this time will be getting staff members accustomed to a new facility.  Part of this is giving them tours, to let them start thinking about how they will move about and care for the patients in the new wing.  This is where I come in, again.  This is what is taking up so much of my time these days – TOURS!

I give three to six tours a week.  Mind you, I have other things to do.  I’m also over space management (1.74M square feet), furniture, real estate (leasing, buying, selling, etc.), interior design, and design for all of the other 40 projects that we have going on at one time.  I have a staff of three who help me, and we have a construction staff of three as well, who manage all of the various contractors on site.  Our Maintenance team works with us to help out on the latter as well.  All in all, though, we are a very small team working with over $125M of construction at the present time.   It’s not easy to do my job as it is.  It’s more difficult with so much time out of the office doing the tours.

They are fun, but time-consuming.  For the most part, people are nice, and they don’t say derogatory things about the new wing.  Occasionally, though, we get the disgruntled employee who merely wants to use the tours to complain about every thing they have ever seen wrong with the rest of the campus, in their mind anyway.  It could be something as small as, “I sure hope they don’t use that chairbed again,” to something as hurtful (to us as designers anyway) as, “I can’t believe you didn’t think about that, since it’s so elementary.”  I joked the other day with a fun group.  One of them asked me if I wanted to be a tour guide somewhere else, like the Grand Canyon or such.  I said I really thought I could handle it, and that it would probably be more fun than these tours.  At least there, no one complains that the river is in the wrong place, and I should have thought about where the river should have gone but didn’t because I’m apparently an idiot.  It lightened the mood.

This week was especially long, it seemed.  We had four tours yesterday alone, and I did them all.  It takes up at least an hour per tour, plus the time I take before and after, cleaning the hard hats and goggles, taking the photos and sending them back to the tourists, and all of the scheduling mess that occurs when someone doesn’t show up or shows up on the wrong day.  It’s all happened.

I like what I do.  I will just be glad when the tourist season winds down, or when I can at least hand some of them off to someone else.  More to come next time on tour questions that made me wonder if they were really serious!

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