Featured Project: Patient-Centered Design

July 18, 2006
By Janet Wiens • Photograph by Bill Timmerman
The design of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, puts patients first by adhering to Planetree principles and its vision for the future of healthcare.

By Janet Wiens

Expanding the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center (BGSMC) in Phoenix provided an opportunity to address service needs while also creating a new image for the hospital. The patient-centered design of the $92 million, 305,000-sq. ft. project showcases the institution's commitment to providing an environment that is efficient, comfortable and comforting.

"The hospital completed a healing garden in 1999, and that caused a broader discussion regarding the value of spaces that are tied to nature," says Jocelyn Stroupe, IIDA, AAHID, director of OWP/P's healthcare interiors group, the project's designer. "The garden was used extensively by patients and staff, and spurred hospital officials to look even more at the value the natural environment can play in the healthcare and healing process."

BGSMC is an urban hospital that serves a diverse community from both an ethnic and economic perspective. Stroupe says that nature is a universal element that everyone can relate to, which further solidified the desire to bring nature into the expansion in multiple ways. Principles emphasized by Planetree, which advocates patient-centered design that fosters interaction between patients and family members, provided the foundation from which the design team worked.

An off-site meeting that was held at the beginning of the project brought together members of the design team, hospital officials and the construction manager—resulting in a set of goals, a mission statement and guiding principles that supported the project's design over time. These materials helped to keep the team focused, which was especially important as personnel changed throughout the three-year life of the project.

BGSMC has three centers of excellence—cardiology, women's care and imaging. These areas share a new front door, registration area, and inpatient and outpatient bays where all pre- and post-operative services are performed. Ambulatory services are located on the first floor, the cardiology center can be found on the second floor, and the women's center occupies the third floor. Visitors may enter through the main entrance on the first floor or through a dedicated entrance from the new parking garage on the second floor.

"The new main entrance was very important," says Stroupe. "The hospital previously had multiple points of entry, which was confusing and posed security concerns. The new entry consolidates all entries and creates a new image for the BGSMC community."

The architectural design created courtyards and waiting areas that forge a bond between the interior and exterior environment. The design encourages family and friends to participate in patient care and provides numerous spaces for interaction or quiet contemplation, which reflects Planetree principles. The extensive use of glass gives ample views of the outside and allows natural light to permeate all public spaces.

The color palette is mostly neutral but punches of color can be found when desert plant life blooms. Green, blue, yellow and orange hues found in the plants used by the landscape architect, appear mostly in upholstery, artwork, and in a limited number of painted surfaces.

The main reception desk is crafted from maple—the primary wood used throughout the expansion in the public areas—and walnut, with a stone top. A maple grid below the ceiling helps to further define this as a special area. Carpet was used below the desk, which gives way to the terrazzo floor used in all public areas.

A small seating area adjacent to the waiting area on the first floor established the design used for all seating areas within the expansion. A partial-height wall helps to create some privacy. Native Arizona grasses embedded into the Lumicor panels at the top of the wall provide a subtle connection to nature.

The central courtyard has abundant native plantings and two water features. Staff, visitors and patients traveling along the adjoining corridors have open views of the space. A canopy over the plaza shields individuals occupying the benches as they enjoy the richly landscaped area.

Conference rooms are located on the first floor to facilitate access for community gatherings. The library, also located on the first floor, has numerous educational resources and offers Internet access. Maple stacks and shelves blend with a boldly patterned Mannington carpet, creating a warm setting.

The café accommodates up to 30 people and seating is available inside or outside. Patrons may select from a variety of prepared foods if they do not want to visit the hospital's main cafeteria.

Wayfinding was very important given the project's size and connection with the existing facility. A 150-foot-long curved sandstone wall on the first floor leads users to the existing patient tower. A series of large graphics featuring flowers and native plant life further emphasize various destination departments.

Two aspects of the expansion will not be noticed as much by patients and visitors, but they are critical to the day-to-day operation of the hospital. First, the expansion is very easy to maintain. Stroupe says that with proper care, it will look as good down the road as the day it opened.

Second, efficiency was maximized throughout the expansion. The cardiac department's layout allows for a greater number of patients to be served in a more private environment. The location of the cath lab next to the existing operating room facilitates transport needs. A centralized work core gives the staff access to all imaging rooms—resulting in a 40 percent decrease in support space. These and other design measures enable staff to work more efficiently, which benefits both patients and hospital personnel.

The BGSMC expansion blurs the lines between the interior and exterior environment to create a facility that promotes healing. This patient-centered design successfully fulfills the hospital's vision and benefits everyone who passes through its doors.

A Natural TouchBefore the expansion of Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, the hospital may have been known in the urban community it serves as the place to go for quality medical care, but it was certainly not considered the most aesthetically pleasing place to heal. An outdated design that lacked a clear sense of entry and wayfinding required the design team to give the healthcare facility a new identity. Recently, as I approached the main entrance, which consolidates several previous entry ways, I was greeted by native landscaping that seemingly extended into the building through the expansive windows composing the curtain wall that floods the space with daylight. Indeed, nature was a central theme of the expansion project and is carried out through various design elements in the facility, including a neutral color palette with hints of desert plant blooms, graphic design elements that depict nature around reception areas, and native grasses infused into Lumicor panels in the partial-height walls around waiting and seating areas. While design elements indoors hint at elements of nature, direct access to healing gardens can be found throughout the facility. In fact, an existing healing garden in the central courtyard, which had previously been used as a smoking area by hospital staff and visitors, was the impetus for the nature-inspired theme of the design. Another garden just outside the blood transfusion center features canopies that provide shade from the desert sun, and benches near a small fountain offer patients a place to ease their tensions. The view from the second floor looking down reveals a winding "rock river" that connects the various gardens that can be seen throughout the facility, thanks to the extensive use of glass. As a subtle reference to the Planetree principles that the hospital embraces (which promote patient-centered design that encourages family interaction), the design team incorporated several alcoves inset into the walls that serve as places of reflection where family members and guests can leave inspirational notes about loved ones. Further support for the Planetree principles is evident in the library, which contains various medical resources, including books, pamphlets and Internet access that help educate patients and family, and encourages them to participate in medical decisions. The café on the first floor tells a unique story as well. A former snack stand vendor had provided food services to the hospital staff and visitors for many years. After the expansion, which included the design of a full-service café with indoor and outdoor seating, the hospital administration offered the vendor the opportunity to continue doing business with Banner Good Samaritan by allowing him to run the café, which has proved to be a successful move. Across from the café is an expanded gift shop providing a full array of get-well cards and flowers for patients. Overall, the design team says the expansion has been met with a very positive reaction by hospital staff, patients and visitors—and one can easily see why. Instead of the imposing institutional appearance of many hospitals, Banner Good Samaritan truly feels like a retreat where patients and families can go to find quality medical care and heal, naturally. — Robert Nieminen, Editor

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