Operating at the Highest Level

Operating at the Highest Level

New surgical pavilion will facilitate leading-edge advances


Elliot Chaikof, MD, PhD

To Elliot Chaikof, MD, PhD, BIDMC's new inpatient building represents more than the sum of its parts. It's a manifestation of the institution's beliefs — an embodiment of its philosophy. "Architecture reflects the values that we hold as important to us, representing our beliefs, and reflecting our aspirations and goals," says Chaikof, chair of the Roberta and Stephen R. Weiner Department of Surgery. "The construction underway is rhetoric in stone. It speaks to our focus on patients, to our deep commitment to excellence, and to our continued desire to drive innovation."

Chaikof's surgical team will have a major presence in the new building. As the Beth Israel Lahey Health system's hub for high-acuity care and patients who require the most complex surgical interventions, BIDMC is committed to treating these patients in the most technologically advanced and modern environment. "The surgical pavilion is absolutely essential to surgeons' ability to repair, reconstruct, and replace, and to provide care of the highest quality to patients," Chaikof says. The pavilion will be made up of eight state-of-the-art operating rooms, each providing the optimal environment to support a diverse range of procedures. Several of these will be hybrid operating rooms — versatile spaces that not only contain the most advanced equipment and technology, but are easily adaptable to accommodate a wide array of surgeries and procedures. The surgical pavilion will also feature a welcoming reception desk, which will be named for Laura and Geoffrey S. Rehnert, who made a generous gift in support of the new building. "I am remarkably grateful to the visionary donors who are supporting this building, and by extension, our work in surgery," says Chaikof. "Their dedication to this institution's mission enhances everything we do."

Dr. Chaikof's TeamOf all the operating rooms' many features and benefits, perhaps the most compelling to Chaikof is their ability to accommodate the ever-growing multidisciplinary teams required to complete some of the most complex and intricate surgeries modern medicine has to offer. "More and more, the types of challenges that we're taking on in the operating room are bringing diverse teams together: head and neck surgeons with neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and surgical oncologists, cardiothoracic surgeons with vascular surgeons, and the list goes on and on," says Chaikof, explaining that these teams require several elements to operate effectively: tools, technology, and most importantly, space. Whereas most technologies require less space as they advance, many of the latest surgical tools require more space. The operating rooms in the new inpatient building are built to accommodate this. "These more spacious rooms will greatly enhance our teams' ability to seamlessly interact. To have an environment that improves collaboration among nurses, doctors, staff, and technologists will have an enormous impact at BIDMC, in our community, and beyond."

Because the building's construction will take several years, most of its equipment has yet to be purchased. Many of these surgical tools and technologies are in a state of continuing evolution. Overtime, technology will advance — and these new innovations will be at the center of the building's new operating rooms. Although not all of these innovations are fully defined, Chaikof is certain they will enhance not only BIDMC's clinical outcomes, but its staff's ability to be efficient, effective, nimble, and to make the very best use of precious resources. "The surgeries we perform are exceedingly complex, and therefore, the equipment we use is becoming increasingly intricate," says Chaikof. Among these are leading-edge imaging tools that allow his team to perform minimally invasive surgery to reduce our footprint of care; surgical robots that assist surgeons in performing precise procedures; and new technology that not only enables advanced patient monitoring during surgery, but also monitors the function and interactions of the entire operative team. "Monitoring the patient during surgery is standard practice. Monitoring the performance of the surgical team, however, is novel and ensures that we optimize the entire environment so that each team member is 'operating' at his or her full potential," says Chaikof.

In addition to their ability to house multidisciplinary staff performing the most complex surgeries and procedures imaginable, the new building's operating rooms will be what Chaikof calls 'learning laboratories.' Simply put, they will be hotspots for innovation and education. "As a top Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, education is our business," says Chaikof. "We are providing great patient care, yes, but we also have the distinct privilege of educating and preparing future leaders in medicine." The ability for residents and fellows to operate alongside pioneers like Chaikof in these brand new, high-tech facilities will enhance their training and drive their learning potential to new heights — as individuals and within teams. In his view, young trainees are not the only ones who benefit from this 'learning laboratory' model. "Part of this new building is to facilitate a curious, inquisitive environment in which every single member of the team is constantly innovating by embracing new tools and approaches and by challenging themselves and everyone around them to provide the very best care to patients," says Chaikof. "To really embrace lifelong learning, this building will allow us to better understand what we're doing currently and why, and what we should be doing better by asking difficult, but important, questions." By introducing new technology in a safe, thoughtful, and creative manner and continually questioning current team practices and processes — Why are we doing it this way? What if we tried it another way? — Chaikof aims to turn each interaction with a patient into an opportunity to improve the next.

Few people are as enthusiastic as Chaikof is about this new building's surgical potential — and the philosophy it represents. "On so many different levels, this building is an important crucible of care, as a way to bring people together; to help us teach, innovate, and discover; to help us study our processes; to serve our community as never before," he says. "We are delivering on what it means to be part of the new Beth Israel Lahey Health system. Within this new system and this new building, we function as a focal point for exceptional care, with an opportunity to do things differently than anyone has done in Massachusetts before, or anywhere else for that matter."


On so many different levels, this building is an important crucible of care, as a way to bring people together; to help us teach, innovate, and discover; to help us study our processes; to serve our community as never before.”
Elliot Chaikof, MD, PhD