The main lobby links the diagnostic treatment center to the nine-story bed tower, which functions as the primary hub to all services. While corridors in the existing building weren’t even up to code in some of its 1930s-era spaces, the new hospital allows for separate staff elevators and hallways where supplies and equipment can be stored or moved without crossing paths with patients or visitors. The hospital was also able to upgrade its HVAC and emergency power systems to enhance performance and reduce both its carbon footprint and costs. “We put advanced systems in the new building’s surgery suites to aid the surgeons and [to ensure] energy efficiency,” says Clay Seckman, SSR senior principal, healthcare program director. In the older facility, backup power was a major issue, too. “Systems designed in one era cannot always be modified or upgraded to meet expectations in the next. More and more medical equipment is desired to be on backup power, as the average acuity of the patient population is ever increasing. More critically, many medical procedures are now expected to be able to be continued during a power outage and switch over to emergency power, instead of being interrupted.”
Owensboro’s private patient rooms grew in size from between 302 and 322 square feet to 400 square feet, to address patient comfort and wellness, as well as efficiency. The same-handed rooms also feature a sofa bed and desk table for visitors, and ample space around the patient bed for caregivers. The rooms were built with the future in mind, too, with a universal design that allows the hospital to adjust between services for more efficient day-to-day use as well as later expansions. “Whether it’s intensive care or standard care, it could flex over time with minor changes and without major renovation,” says Kurt Spiering, healthcare principal at HGA. “These are costs we’ve built into the plan for long-term use.”
Taking utilities into account was also a must in providing flexibility for the universal care rooms. “If a regular patient room is going to be repurposed to an ICU room, it impacts medical gas outlets, electrical circuiting, and air change rates,” Seckman says. “Those types of features have to be built into [the room] when you change the purpose. We could be flexible from an infrastructure standpoint, provide for future expansion, and not have to completely rebuild.”
Healing aspects of the design
Every floor in the nine-story bed tower has almost floor-to-ceiling windows, including the patient rooms, which let in natural light and views of the courtyards along the riverscape. Patients also have access to a main outdoor courtyard with a water fountain, an interior courtyard and rooftop garden within the women’s services unit, and an outdoor walking trail. “There’s something about looking at the fields, ponds, and trees, and being able to focus away from your issues, that helps the healing process,” says Greg Strahan, chief operating officer of Owensboro Health. In addition, natural materials were incorporated into the interior and exterior of the hospital to tie in with the surroundings and create a serene environment. “There’s an emphasis on drawing from natural materials, and colors and tones found in nature,” says HGA vice president Mark Bultman. “The exterior is largely clad in limestone along with some quarry stone from Wisconsin on the interior of the building. The warm wood tones are very calming for patients.”
A step ahead
With more efficient processes, easier access to services, and a health-promoting design, Owensboro Health can now offer a level of care its former facility simply wasn’t able to accomplish. Ultimately, the hospital hopes to boost its readmission rates with a new and much-improved facility that represents its commitment to providing quality, innovative care. “It’s provided us the opportunity to push the envelope,” says Strahan. With every aspect of care fine-tuned, patients can receive even more attentive care and the new hospital’s peaceful ambience not only enhances the experience, it helps the healing process.