Since its entry into the medical field in 2009 with two major hospital purchases from Tenet Healthcare, the University of Southern California (USC) has had a singular focus: increasing access to care. It’s done this through its Keck Medicine of USC, which is one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Recently, Keck Medicine opened two new outpatient projects to help it further its mission.

In September, it opened the Palmdale (Calif.) Ambulatory Care Center to offer urology and surgical services. And just last month, it opened the seven-story Norris Healthcare Center, which is now one of four outpatient facilities located at USC’s health sciences campus. The 116,000-square-foot health care center consolidates several services for convenient, integrated care.

“Keck Medicine of USC is in a period of unprecedented growth, with significant increases in patient volume, and the new Norris Healthcare Center will help us meet the growing demand,” says Thomas Jackiewicz, MPH, senior vice president and CEO of Keck Medicine. “This beautiful, modern facility can accommodate more than 100,000 patient visits each year and offers expanded specialty services that have been tailored to the current and future needs of our patients.”

The center hosts specialty care for women, urology, infusion therapy, a laboratory for clinical testing, a pharmacy, six outpatient surgery rooms, several procedure treatment rooms and 46 examination rooms. Smitha Ravipudi, MPH, chief operating officer of USC Care and Ambulatory Services, says the entire building’s layout and design were created with patients in mind.

“The space we’ve designed is intended to help create and deliver ambulatory care of the future,” she explains. “We wanted to create a more integrated approach to care. So, for instance, if we have a urologic oncology patient come in, they can see the urologic oncologist and urologist on the first day for consultation. The space enables more same-day care to avoid patients' having to keep coming back. You can come in, see the surgeon and also get studies done," Ravipudi adds.

Another element designed to ease patients’ stress is the center’s infusion-therapy suite, comprising 24 private bays separated by etched glass. Each bay features large windows to bring light into the space and allow patients to enjoy the serene San Gabriel Mountains. It also boasts calming water features and space for meditation. Each patient is offered an iPad to use for entertainment and interactive patient education during treatment.

Prior to moving into the new facility, the center held three “day in the life” events to walk staff not only through required life and safety procedures, but also workflow processes. Ravipudi says approximately 200 issues came up during those events that helped to refine best practices, such as putting up signage in certain areas and displaying more wayfinding information. It also helped the center to revamp its patient check-in process.

Each patient, whether they require only one service or multiple services, have to check in only once via iPad kiosks in the center’s lobby. That information goes to the appropriate departments so that they know the patient has checked in rather than requiring him or her to check in and fill out paperwork at each stage.

Other unique patient amenities include a women’s health store on the third floor where patients can be fitted for wigs and shop for post-mastectomy bras. There is also a yoga room and nutritional counselors on-site.  

“Everything is geared around creating a better [patient] experience,” Ravipudi says. “Many are here for unfortunate reasons, so we want to make sure they have the best experience and best care while here.”

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