In August 2002, one of the country's first all- digital, patient-centered, freestanding cardio-vascular care hospitals opened in Oklahoma City. Hailed as a new model for cardiology facility design, it quickly became an industry benchmark. Since opening, Oklahoma Heart Hospital reports that it is in the 99th percentile of the Press Ganey inpatient satisfaction database, placing it among the top one percent of the facilities with which it is being compared.
While Oklahoma Heart Hospital has proven to be successful for its owners during its first three years of operation, there are always lessons designers can learn in seeing how well the building facilitates the delivery of healthcare. A year after the hospital opened, the designers went back and met with Michael Schroyer, former president of Oklahoma Heart Hospital and now principal of TRG Cardiovascular, for a postoccupancy evaluation (POE). In addition, they talked with physicians, administrators, and staff to find out what works and what doesn't, and to see what lessons could be learned for future projects.
The result of a partnership between Oklahoma Cardiovascular Associates and Mercy Health Center, the 78-bed hospital was designed by Watkins Hamilton Ross Architects (WHR) of Houston. The design team worked with physicians and Mercy Hospital administrators to design a hospital with the heart patient in mind every step of the way. The owners' goal was to create a unity of care not found anywhere else. To do this, a “critical path” for patients was established to minimize their waiting times and transfers. Private patient rooms are equipped with specially designed beds to easily accommodate x-rays without moving the patient (figure 1). Ancillary service departments, such as respiratory therapy, pharmacy, and lab, are conveniently located on the patient-bed floor (figure 2).
Private patient room with bed specially designed to accommodate x-ray equipment
Plan of patient-bed floor
Another goal of the project was to accommodate the latest in digital technology. High-resolution digital monitors in patient rooms and throughout the hospital allow physicians and staff to instantly access any clinical information on patients, including all medical images, medication and allergy reaction records, past procedures, and consultations with other physicians. Secured through a privacy network, the system also allows physicians to log on from their homes.
The hospital's distinct shape and form (figure 3) communicate to patients and visitors that they are important. A dramatic four-story atrium lobby with natural light streaming in from the north window wall evokes a warm welcome for visitors. Balconies from the patient floor cascade out over the atrium, giving it a tremendous feeling of spaciousness. The ground floor concierge desk gives visitors a place for convenient check-in, information, and assistance. A natural color palette provides warmth, incorporating wood and stone into the design scheme.