October 24, 1996
Media Contact: Marc Kusintz
Phone: (410) 955-8665

"The Wilmer pavilion unites state-of-the-art medicine, facility design and patient services, all done in a setting that preserves the best traditions of Wilmer Eye Institute."

The examining chair used by eight past U.S. presidents now shares space with facilities and staff reengineered for today's cost-cutting mandates in the Wilmer Eye Institute's original historic building at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

When the new Wilmer Eye Care Pavilion opens for patients on Nov. 4, the $2.68 million facility will house Maryland's only eye trauma center, a 12-bed in-patient unit that includes pre- and postoperative services, an ophthalmic pharmacy, a social worker and a teaching center where patients will meet to learn what to expect during their eye surgery and how to care for themselves at home following treatment.

Located in a renovated 13,000 sq. ft. area on the third floor of the Wilmer building, part of which dates to the late 1800s, the facility represents an extensive reengineering of facilities and services. Instead of separate floors and separate nursing staffs for emergency, surgery and recovery areas, the pavilion contains all these services, staffed by nurses trained to work in each area. This new flexibility ensures that nurses can be shifted among different services, depending on where they are needed most.

"The new pavilion is one of the first major reengineering projects at Johns Hopkins that patients can experience immediately upon walking into the facility," says Morton F. Goldberg, M.D., the director of the Wilmer Eye Institute and the William Holland Wilmer Professor of Ophthalmology. "In addition to the comfortable, efficiently designed facilities, the nursing staff has been cross-trained, giving us flexibility in responding to the daily needs of patients," he says. "This has proved to be very cost-effective."

Enhanced with original watercolor and oil paintings by local artists and poster art, and set against a "Monet palette" of blue, green, plum and pink, the pavilion was designed by the Rochester, N.Y., architectural firm The DeWolff Partnership.

The historical significance of the new Wilmer facility is enhanced by the restoration of the Wilmer dome, one of the two, smaller such structures on either side of the large dome that symbolizes The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Wilmer dome rises above a quiet, carpeted area whose walls are adorned with historical photographs of Wilmer faculty, their discoveries and inventions.

In addition, a glass case houses a display of antique eyeglasses, ophthalmic instruments, letters and books from Wilmer's collection. Within one of the dome's four brick niches is the black leather chair used by the institute's first director, William Holland Wilmer, to examine eight United States presidents, from William McKinley to Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as Charles Lindbergh. It is now called the "President's Chair."

"The Wilmer pavilion unites state-of-the-art medicine, facility design and patient services in a setting that preserves the best traditions of the Wilmer Eye Institute," says Goldberg.

The new pavilion opens almost exactly 71 years from the original opening of the Wilmer Eye Institute in the fall of 1925. And it comes almost simultaneously with Wilmer's ranking in the October issue of Ophthalmology Times as the number one ophthalmology program in the United States. The ranking is the result of a national survey of ophthalmology chairpersons and thus reflects Wilmer's reputation among eye institutions around the country.

Wilmer has been named the best eye institute in the country by U.S. News and World Report for the past two years, and among the top two in the country for six years in a row.

Wilmer Eye Institute has more than 250,000 sq. ft. on 15 floors of three contiguous buildings. The institute has 600 faculty and staff members, 200 research projects underway, a regional eye care network, and several projects around the world. Wilmer physicians perform more than 5,000 surgeries each year and handle more than 80,000 outpatient visits per year.

-- JHMI --
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