Modern Healthcare names the best-designed new hospitals

Two hospitals are international

Five facilities have won Modern Healthcare's 31st annual awards for excellence in health care design, Joseph Conn reports for Modern Healthcare.

The Design Award winners "reflected a pair of trends in U.S. health care," Conn says: a "growing international focus" and a "shift from fee-for-service to value-based reimbursement."

A panel of seven design specialists evaluated more than 70 nominated facilities for overall design, facility sustainability, functional utility, flexibility of design, and response to patient and family needs.

Gold Award recipient

Humber River Hospital in Toronto, Canada, faced "significant financial and bureaucratic constraints," Conn writes, but "met [its] once-in-a-lifetime challenge."

The 656-bed hospital opened last fall, and officials focused on creating a high-tech, low-impact building. Using the 'Lean Six Sigma' method, they focused on incorporating labor-saving design features, such as a layout that reduced the distance that staff need to walk. In addition, they invested in energy-saving technology, such as low-flow plumbing and eco-friendly lighting strategies, which have slashed Humber River's anticipated energy consumption almost in half.

One of the designers' main focuses was creating an "all-digital hospital." The hospital has self-guided robots that navigate the facility, an up-to-date EHR system, and a text-messaging service that updates loved ones when a patient leaves surgery.

Judge Agnessa Todorova, director of integration at design firm Aditazz, said, the hospital's landscaping and use of art throughout the building "was definitely very inviting," and that the "use of robots for materials management frees up a lot of time and resources that can be dedicated to being more patient-friendly."

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"I think that balance between being very friendly and technologically savvy is what made me put it at the top of my list," Todorova said.

Silver Award recipient

Christ Hospital is located on top of a hill in the middle of the Cincinnati—and while that location is iconic, the hospital had long been "locked up" by geography, explained Brian Lee, design partner with Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill. "One of the great services we did was help them unlock the campus."

The result was the seven-story Christ Hospital Joint and Spine Center, which added 90 inpatient rooms and 12 surgery suites to the campus, along with a two-story office building and a parking garage. These changes allowed the hospital to expand, Lee said. The designers also used the hospital's location to their advantage by including a series of terraces around the hospital, a spacious courtyard, and a rooftop deck with 360-degree views of Cincinnati.

Bronze Award recipient

The Cleveland Clinic worked with the government of the United Arab Emirates to create the massive Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, which includes 101 acres of floor space—about two-thirds as much as the Pentagon. The hospital opened last year and has 364 beds, but can expand to 490. It also has 26 ORs and houses more than 30 medical and surgical specialties. More than 300 Cleveland Clinic staff helped design the care areas, according to Mohammed Ayoub, VP at HDR, which oversaw the project.

Situating a health care facility in Abu Dhabi—where the average summer temperature is 108 degrees—was a challenge for designers. Among their responses was creating a "thermal buffer" that takes advantage of the building's exhaust air, which is cooler than the outside air.

Judge Cecilia DeLoach Lynn lauded the design team's efforts. "When you go somewhere where they can have daytime temperatures of 115, it's no small challenge to build in an environment like that," she said.

Senior Friendly Award recipient

BrianUyesugi, senior associate on the design of Swedish Edmonds Ambulatory Care Center and resident of the small Washington state town, wanted the hospital to showcase his town's history as an old logging village.

To reflect the town's historical "shingle mill culture," the hospital used local timber to create a local feel, and it features historic photos in the lobby.

The ambulatory care center also greatly expanded the existing acute-care hospital's care footprint, adding an ED, new imaging centers, an urgent care clinic, and examination rooms. The ambulatory center is the hospital's "new front door," said designer Heather Nye. "[It's] a place where people can get a flu shot and an espresso."

Environmentally Friendly Award recipient

Construction on the Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley Medical Offices in the Mojave Desert "overcame ... severe environmental challenges," Conn writes. The site is tucked inside a mountain range, where winds can reach up to 90 miles an hour and the sun can be overpowering.

To create a comforting space in the desert, architects designed outdoor areas with protection from the sun and wind, tilted walls to offer shade, and constructed a glass wall that conserves energy and allows mountain views.

John Kouletsis, VP of facilities planning and design at Kaiser Permanente, said, "We tried to create micro-environments so (patients and staff) wouldn't be trapped inside, and they could go outside and engage in the environment" (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/2; Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/2 [2]; Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/2 [3]; Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/2 [4]; Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/2 [5]; Conn, Modern Healthcare, 9/2 [6]; Modern Healthcare methodology, accessed 9/9).

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