The Nappi Wellness Institute features artworks from more than 50 local artists.

Image courtesy of Nappi Wellness Institute

Upstate Medical University, based in central New York, has seen consistent growth in its patient population. So much, in fact, that half of the goals included in its strategic master plan touch on increasing access to care. 

The Nappi Wellness Institute, which opened in the summer with a continuous rollout schedule as more services came online, is one of the organization’s most recent efforts to achieve this goal. 

The five-story, 200,000-plus-square-foot building is now the centerpiece of Upstate’s outpatient care, housing an array of ambulatory services to streamline operations. The floor plan has 240 exam and consultation rooms, with workstations conveniently located to facilitate provider-patient interactions. The build-out of an on-site cafe currently slated for 2024 will be the last piece of the puzzle. 

In addition to ensuring ample space and efficient layouts to facilitate care, designers of the building paid special attention to the interior’s look and feel, knowing that patients and staff respond positively to a well-designed facility. 

“The Nappi Wellness Institute is a transformative health care facility that we are proud to have as part of our campus,” says Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, M.D. “Wellness is indeed its middle name, for healing and wellness is reflected throughout the facility, in its design, in its mechanics, in its operations, in the way our health care professionals work and in the way our patients will be cared for.” 

Architecture, engineering and construction firm Stantec designed the building to achieve LEED Gold and WELL Silver Building Certification. While those designations are still in the submittal stages, with approvals expected by the beginning of 2024, patients and staff are benefiting now from the focused design that pays special attention to physical, mental and emotional health. 

For instance, common areas are filled with natural light, which research finds can improve mood and reduce stress. All exam rooms and shared work areas have dimmable lights to flow with natural rhythms and provide visual acuity. The building also promotes movement, which is one of 10 measurements used by the Well Building Standard program. Colorful staircases labeled with numbers attract and invite visitors to get their steps in for the day, and their soft rubberized flooring increases walking safety. 

Nappi Wellness Institute also features acoustical separations for greater privacy and sound absorption between areas. Water bottle-filling stations located throughout the facility are marked by QR codes that users can scan to track water quality. Public spaces are made pedestrian friendly with a plaza dotted with gardens, bridges connecting the building to parking garages and Upstate Cancer Center, and a covered traffic circle to ease dropping off and picking up patients. 

One of the more unique features of the facility is its array of 75 original art pieces from more than 50 local artists. Leaders at Nappi Wellness Institute set up a collective curation process, with representatives from every department to review artwork and select pieces. Mediums include ceramics, mosaics, paintings, fabric and quilting, murals and more. 

“There is a lot of literature and research that speaks to the fact that the environment helps with healing,” says Matthew Capogreco, ambulatory director of special projects. “How many of us have gone to a doctor’s office and seen faded posters of Monet paintings we’ve seen a thousand times? The days of cat posters saying ‘Chin up’ are gone. Our patients and staff will be in this building a lot. It’s part of their home, and we think they deserve it.” 

The Nappi Wellness Institute includes pediatric, adult and geriatric care; radiology; laboratory services; behavioral health; and family medicine. It also hosts specialty clinics, including Connect Care, which handles post-acute care follow ups; the Center for International Health; inclusive health services; the Joslin Center for Diabetes; and the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease, which will play a key role in the institute’s future. 

“The Greater Syracuse area has the highest concentration of older adults in New York state, so we are excited to amplify the services we can offer to this expanding population,” says Geriatric Medicine Chair Sharon Brangman, M.D. “We anticipate that we will see patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in greater numbers. This facility will ensure that we have the space to care for patients, consult with families and provide immediate access to other specialists.”