As health care has become the focal point of American politics in recent months, and as the debate has nearly reached a boiling point, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that we have one of the most advanced health care systems in the world—with the very best practitioners and hospitals the medical community has to offer.
Thanks to advancements in medical technology, as well as a more patient-centered approach to the design and construction of health care facilities, hospitals and other medical centers throughout the country are transforming their cold, institutional buildings into comfortable, inviting spaces that foster healing and well-being.
This trend was certainly evident in Francis Cauffman Architects’ design for the Atlantic Health System’s Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute at Morristown Memorial Hospital. The design team created the interior to reflect the hospital’s “high-tech, high-touch” philosophy. Natural light floods the atrium lobby, and family waiting rooms are located in a two-story “beacon” at the south end of the building. The two-story lobby/atrium, connected by a Travertine marble staircase, has a concierge, patient registration, and intimate seating areas defined and modulated by wood and fabric panel feature walls, ceiling soffits and lighting.
In the waiting area, family members can enjoy the benefits of flat screen televisions and free Internet access in a comfortable setting—all part of an ongoing effort to provide the comforts of a hotel in a hospital setting. Family waiting areas have informal seating groupings, warm wood ceilings and a balcony with a sweeping curve. Natural colors soften the patient care areas’ clean, high-tech aesthetic.
To help patients feel even more comfortable and to develop healthier lifestyles, Francis Cauffman created the Cardiac Integrative Medicine Suite, which includes a studio where medical staff can provide alternative techniques for healing and heart health such as massage, yoga and meditation. The design team also incorporated a state-of-the-art kitchen into the suite where patients can learn how to cook heart-healthy meals.
This 189,000-square-foot building is part of a campus-wide master plan to accommodate the hospital’s planned growth. It includes the two-story atrium lobby and eight cutting-edge cardiovascular operating rooms integrated with audiovisual equipment that is capable of transferring patient information within the hospital and remotely. Web conference technology is utilized at Morristown to stream live surgical cases to students, physicians, and visitors at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.
The project received the IIDA Pennsylvania/NJ/Delaware Chapter’s 2009 “Healthcare Public Space” honorable mention award. With respect to the project’s aesthetics, the judges noted, “The design is inviting with a residential feel. The use of natural light makes it feel warm and welcoming.” The building’s interior design—which also won the Chapter’s 2008 “Best Healthcare” design award—creates a relaxing atmosphere designed to improve overall patient satisfaction.