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A rendering shows Kaiser Permanente’s new San Diego Medical Center.

Photo courtesy of Kaiser Permanente

Among the long list of impressive features that make San Diego Medical Center a testament to the state of the art in sustainability, technology and holistic care, there is one that stands out in particular.

The new Kaiser Permanente hospital gives patients the ability to remotely control the temperature and lighting in their rooms, eliminating the need to ask caregivers for those adjustments.   

In addition, the rooms include an interactive footwall with an 80-inch monitor that gives patients the ability to access medical records, educational information, the internet and entertainment as well as to communicate virtually with physicians and family.

Empowering patients is healthy. Studies show that loss of control of their environment is a major source of stress for patients who already feel vulnerable as they recover in the hospital.

The interactive footwall and patient control amenities are applications that came out of the health system’s Small Hospital, Big Idea design competition in 2011. 

Design firms Aditazz, M+NLB and Perkins+Will were recognized for their combined work in creating a design concept for a small, eco-conscious, high-tech, and patient- and family-friendly hospital. San Diego Medical Center was designed by CO Architects, Los Angeles. 

At 565,000 square feet and 321 beds with plans to expand to 461 beds later, the medical center is not small. But the patient room ideas from the design competition were too important not to incorporate in the new medical center, which opens in April.

“We learned a lot from the design competition and we were able to adopt it very quickly to the medical center,” says Sunil Shah, executive director of facilities planning and design, Kaiser Permanente. “The design of this hospital was in progress when the competition was going on and we were quick to adopt some of what we learned."      

The patient rooms emphasize safety, too. Nurses can monitor patient movements remotely through the use of a web camera placed in the room.

The health system makes patient engagement and community responsibility high priorities. Facilitywide LED lighting (a first for U.S. hospitals), solar power, reclaimed water for landscaping and two miles of hiking paths make the facility distinctive. It is tracking for LEED Healthcare Gold and possibly Platinum, according to Kaiser Permanente.