Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast is a 50-bed acute care hospital owned by the Sacred Heart Health System of Pensacola, Florida. Its two-floor design successfully captures the resort image prevalent in this seaside community in the Florida panhandle. Beyond meeting the fundamental clinical, operational, and growth requirements, Sacred Heart Hospital creates a healing environment where the mind, body, and spirit can be nurtured amid the latest medical technology available.

The site is master-planned for a 200-bed facility. The expansion is designed not to interfere with the primary public façade or entrances. Patient rooms are designed as universally adaptable between intensive care, step-down, and acute care. The result is flexibility that accommodates the dynamic census of a community hospital with a seasonal population.

The design created a relationship between the indoors and outdoors. Healing gardens, which border the medical concourse footprint, have been designed for accessibility. The serene views promote a healing environment. Located beyond the welcoming grassy forecourt, the gardens are near all patient and visitor waiting areas. In addition, families in the surgery staging areas have clear views of the gardens, which offer a calming environment.

A patient/family resource area with in-room Internet access is provided in the nursing unit to facilitate information access. Patients have bedside controls for lighting, television, music, and phone. Daybeds are provided in all rooms to ease a caregiver's overnight stay. A kitchen and laundry are also provided within the nursing units. Such family amenities help reinforce the importance of family involvement in a patient's recovery.

Project category: New construction (completed January 2003)

Chief administrator: Rick Lowe, CHE, Vice-President, Sacred Heart Health System, (850) 416-7572

Firms: Gresham, Smith, and Partners, (904) 332-6699; Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions, (610) 270-0599

Design team: Joe Thompson, Principal-in-Charge; Phil Kress, Project Manager; James Kolb, Design Principal (Gresham, Smith, and Partners); Patricia D. Malick, Principal, Interior Design; Floss McGrady, Interior Design Project Manager (Array Healthcare Facilities Solutions)

Photography: © Joseph Lapeyra Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 105,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $189

Total cost (excluding land): $19,800,000