Leaders at UNC REX Healthcare, Raleigh, say that every inch of the new North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital was designed with the patient experience in mind.

The eight-story, 306,000-square-foot hospital provides opportunities for physicians and nurses to focus not only on patient care and procedures, but also prevention, research and education.

“Every aspect of the facility was designed with the comfort of patients and their families in mind,” says James Zidar, M.D., chief physician of the heart and vascular service line. “The design is based on research, best practices from other heart centers across the country and input from across central and eastern North Carolina. We wanted to open a facility that will improve care for them and for generations to come.”

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Natural light floods the new hospital's lobby.

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital

The hospital’s comfortable patient experience begins before they even step inside the door. The new hospital offers valet parking at the front entrance and a covered walkway from the nearby parking deck. Once patients enter the lobby, they are greeted by natural light and dedicated rooms for patient privacy during intake.

The hospital’s patient room layout is patient-centered, as well. Each of the 114 rooms features dedicated space for family and friends equipped with a privacy screen and couch that converts to a bed.

Additional healing occurs in the hospital’s cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation room, which is equipped with treadmills, bikes, upper body cycles, step machines and free weights so that rehab therapists can create individualized exercise plans.

The hospital’s community spaces include the Kardia Café, which serves healthful, Mediterranean-inspired food. Adjacent to the café is a family courtyard with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking an outdoor waterfall and artwork from local artists. A quiet room gives patients and visitors a safe place for prayer and meditation.

The patient-first mindset even influenced spaces within the hospital that are designed for medical staff. For instance, each patient room floor has two nursing neighborhoods assigned to 12 patients each. The goal of the nursing neighborhoods is to reduce steps between the nurses and patient rooms, resulting in quicker nurse response times.

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The facility features the latest technology for treatment and prevention heart diseases, such as the equipment in its cath lab.

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital

Dedicated education conference rooms and a simulation lab are other design features benefiting both staff and patients. The spaces will allow physicians in the hospital and from around the world to receive continued hands-on training, ensuring that patients receive treatment that includes state-of-the-art techniques and devices.

“The new hospital will incorporate the latest technology for the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease,” says Ravish Sachar, M.D., chief physician, UNC REX Heart & Vascular.  “We will offer patients a wide range of clinical trials and research. The dedicated education space will make it easier for UNC REX physicians to continue training physicians from across the country and around the world, and expand education programs available for patients and the community.”

UNC REX, the main hospital on UNC Health Care’s campus, transferred cardiovascular patients and services into the new facility March 5. The transition opened up new care opportunities that will occupy the previous cardiovascular space, such as a planned behavioral health zone for patients being treated in the hospital’s emergency department and who need a safe area to deal with mental distress.

UNC REX President Steve Burriss says the Heart & Vascular Hospital opening is part of the health system's “plan to regenerate our main hospital campus, and evolve into a regional referral center offering specialized cardiovascular care, prevention and education for patients from across Eastern North Carolina and beyond.”