A redesign and expansion of Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, San Diego, has modernized the largest privately operated psychiatric hospital in the county, while creating an environment that puts patients first.

To ensure that they achieved their design objectives, Cuningham Group Architecture Inc., San Diego, solicited input from hospital administrators, caregivers, patients and their families.

The renovations range from improvements to mechanical systems to redesigned spaces that emphasize patient care and staff interaction in a natural light-filled setting. The project expanded the facility to 26,800 square feet.

The new facility incorporates the latest in Planetree principles of patient-centric health care design, says Steven Ward, AIA, associate principal, Cuningham Group.     

Planetree criteria focus on the patient experience, as well as the experiences of family members, front-line staff, leadership teams, the medical staff, patient and family advisers and others.

The redesign “allows the patient and family to integrate more closely with the caregivers,” Ward says. “It understands that exemplary medical treatment combines leading-edge technology with compassionate human interactions.” The redesign also “eliminates unnecessary barriers and opens communication, extending beyond the physical environment to transform wellness culture in the facility,” he says.

Open-plan nurse stations allow staff to engage more easily with patients and family members. New dining facilities open to a garden area, providing healthful and energy-saving daylight. Five new recovery areas are similarly open to daylight.

Other design highlights include:

  • The front entry’s complete redesign provides access that meets Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and a transformative look and feel, including a new tiled exterior façade and a water feature.
  • Renovations provide an “open” look that is calming and inviting to patients and families. Nurse stations and other rooms allow staff to visualize all common spaces and encourage staff, patient and family interactions.
  • The layout and floorplan, combined with furniture, fabrics and colors, are all designed and selected to include areas that feel comfortable and therapeutic, while maintaining a secure environment.
  • Materials are carefully created or selected to create a calming and healing place rather than an institutional appearance.
  • Patient bathroom doors are angled 30 degrees at the top edge to eliminate “ligature” (self-harming) points while still providing privacy, and allowing staff to visualize the patient or access the bathroom, if needed. Other anti-ligature elements include safety mirrors, paper towel and toilet paper holders built into the wall and framed with tile.
  • Space layouts and furniture arrangements create peaceful and inspiring spaces that incorporate art and nature, while generating opportunities for therapeutic discussion and interaction.

Three buildings were transformed over six construction phases, with the fully occupied hospital continuing to provide care during the work, which posed a challenge to the designers and builders.

“The safety and security of patients was always a No. 1 consideration. We helped to achieve that with the Swinerton Builders team over 24 months of construction, and with an excellent safety record,” Ward says.

Cuningham and Swinerton were recognized by Design-Build Institute of America with a National Design-Build Project/Team Award for their work on the project.

The two companies were honored in the health care facilities category for exceeding owner expectations for function and durability of finishes for the end users, achieving budget and schedule goals, and exemplifying an advanced and innovative approach to total integrated project delivery.

In other health care facility project news:

  • Via Christi Health, a member of Ascension Health, is building a new $5 million, 15,000-square-foot medical clinic in Derby, Kan.  

    MedCraft Healthcare Real Estate LLC, is the developer-owner of the facility, which will integrate primary care and physical therapy. The clinic’s 2.1-acre site offers room for future expansion, if necessary.

  • Mechanical contractor Wiegmann Associates, St. Louis, has started work on an HVAC and building system for Clinica Family Health’s new 65,000-square-foot medical clinic in Lafayette, Colo.

    The two-story facility will feature 36 exam rooms, a reception area, full dental clinic, pharmacy, training facility and administrative offices. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2018. 

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