Consolidating four satellite facilities into the comprehensive, multispecialty Dean East Clinic on Madison's east side enabled Dean Health System, Inc., to streamline its operations, enhance its image, and expand its market share in a facility designed to promote patient and staff satisfaction and flexibly accommodate future growth.

Patient comfort is the overlying theme. Healing elements—including wood, stone, and water—create a positive environment. Elements reminiscent of an upscale hotel—comfortable benches, framed art, and tables with shaded lamps—line the public corridors, while colors, lighting, and water act as wayfinding elements. A pharmacy, optical shop, skin care center, and health resources center are all conveniently located near the entrance.

Use of a centrally located registration desk and waiting area on each of the three floors maximizes patient convenience. Seating is grouped to optimize inspiring and creative visuals: landscape views through the dramatic curtain wall, tropical aquariums, framed art, and the children's play area. Planters provide “screens” between seating groups to enhance privacy, while the four-story water feature provides a soothing background murmur.

Natural light is key to the facility's healing ambience. The curtain wall bathes the waiting areas in natural light. Daylighting in the dermatology and psychiatry areas contributes to improved medical outcomes. Transom windows in providers’ offices allow natural light into the corridors while protecting physician privacy. And daylighting introduced in the lower level is intended to improve staff satisfaction, productivity, and well-being.

While staff and physicians benefit from these healing amenities, they also enjoy the efficiency and increased effectiveness that result from an environment designed for their current and future practice needs. Circulation paths separate staff from patients to enhance productivity. The design encourages a team concept and protects patient privacy by locating physicians’ and staff areas beyond patient zones. An electronic medical record system in the Internal Medicine Department enables physicians to print such items as encounter summaries and prescriptions from computers located in the exam rooms. And a cafá©, located adjacent to the water feature on the lower level, promotes healthy eating in a pleasant, social space.

The additional space has enabled Dean to recruit additional physicians and staff and expand its wellness-class offerings, including exercise and cooking classes, to Madison's east side, increasing public interaction and healthy lifestyle awareness. The facility is sited to allow for expansion with minimal disruption to existing services.

Project category: New construction (completed January 2004)

Chief administrator: Kevin Snitchler, Director of Facilities, (608) 250-1499

Firm: Marshall Erdman & Associates, (608) 218-6326

Design team: Mark Trotter, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Steve Mason, AIA, Project Designer; Steve Loehndorf, Project Architect; Chris Komosa, Interior Designer; Dan Zarnstorff, ASLA, Site Designer

Photography: ©2004; ©2004 Mike Rebholz Photography

Total building area (sq. ft.): 155,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $142

Total cost (excluding land): $22,000,000