"I can do this if I transfer here."
That's the thought a 31-year-old cancer patient had when she walked into the Douglas + Nancy Barnhart Cancer Center at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center for the first time.
The patient had just undergone her first round of chemotherapy to treat stage three breast cancer at another facility, where the treatment room was set up with a row of chairs in an open setting.
Talking to attendees at the Healthcare Design Conference during a tour of the cancer center, she shared how her visit to the Sharp Chula Vista center was so much different.
Here, she found infusion bays that had curtains that could be pulled opened or closed depending on her desired need for privacy, a dedicated chair for a family member to stay nearby, and a view of the surrounding landscape that could help take her mind off of the hours of treatment that lie ahead.
"It's hard to receive all this medical care without feeling safe," she said.
The medical center's spa-like setting and flexible treatment spaces gave her a sense of empowerment and strength that she needed during the months ahead.
Dr. Phillip Zenter of Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center said the goal in designing the facility, which opened in 2012, was to create a sense of home. Since opening, the center has expanded its offerings to include meditation and wellness classes as well as support groups.
The clinical areas also take a holistic approach to treatment by including views to the outdoors and natural light, including in all of the patient rooms.
The facility's two radiation suites look out onto a courtyard and the orientation of the equipment is set so that the first view for patients entering the room is the outdoor setting and natural light, not the equipment.
"We do more here than the technical side of taking care of cancer patients," Zenter said.