The design and construction of hospitality healthcare facilities are as profound and complex as for a full-service hospital. Like any construction or renovation project, specialty projects require resources, experience, communication and collaboration that span between design and construction phases.
Healthcare facilities are primarily remembered and evaluated based on patients’ and families’ total experience. When placing emphasis on guest-focused care, design is influenced beyond what is strictly required by healthcare codes. The intangible aspects of healing, such as the quality of food served, colors and textures of materials used and natural light quality, are equally as important as the private, antiseptic environments needed for healthcare and healing. Patients and families are responding to welcoming and comforting lobbies and nutrition staff that can serve kindness and support along with meals. Amenities help improve health outcomes by reducing stress and anxiety for both the patient and their families.
Additional considerations are infection control standards, selection of materials relative to how the facility will be maintained and design standards centered on patient safety and HIPPA compliance.
In new construction, hospitals are able to adopt more hotel-like design features, such as noise-controlling materials and public spaces designed to feel more welcoming and less clinical. The design and construction of the facility support a transformation from “patient” to “guest.”
The recent completion of the $25.4-million comprehensive renovation of Jesse H. Jones Rotary House International is one example. Operated by Marriott International, the Rotary House is a full-service hotel dedicated exclusively to serving the needs of MD Anderson cancer patients and their immediate family members.
Located in Houston’s Texas Medical Center, Rotary House is physically connected by skywalk to MD Anderson Cancer Center. The comprehensive Rotary House renovation included gutting all 322 guestrooms, restaurant and public spaces. The facility had to remain fully functional during the renovations, which required complicated construction phasing by renovating three floors at a time. This allowed the majority of rooms to remain occupied during construction while maintaining hospital-like standards of infection, as well as dust and noise control.
Guest input was obtained for the overall design, which includes nature-inspired color schemes, textured fabrics and elements of wood and stone.
Guestrooms received new furniture, bedding, wall coverings and carpeting, and bathrooms were updated with new fixtures, tile and millwork. Approximately 78 percent of guest bathrooms were converted from bathtubs to roll-in showers for patient safety and ease of use. To further accommodate guest needs, all rooms now feature a microwave, refrigerator and desk. Executive suites with kitchenettes were upgraded with stainless steel appliances. The hotel’s updated restaurant and bar features an open-concept kitchen, expanded seating with new fixtures and furniture.
MD Anderson cancer patients are able to stay in the full-service hotel dedicated exclusively to serving their needs and those of their families while in Houston receiving treatment. This type of facility is much more economical to provide relative to more expensive hospital space. This approach provides patients and their families a lower-cost option with more amenities.
These considerations not only impact hospitals, but with the aging baby boomer population, extended-stay, assisted-living and retirement centers are becoming more patient- (or guest-)centered as well.
Dallas, Texas-based T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center and Hamon Resource and Education Center is another example of a specialty care facility. A first-of-its-kind campus located at 12379 Merit Drive, the facility is owned and operated by Presbyterian Communities and Services and named for business magnate and financier, T. Boone Pickens.
For an approximate construction cost of $23 million, two buildings were erected totaling 77,500 square feet on a 9.2-acre property where a comprehensive approach to end-of-life care is offered with five “Centers of Excellence Care,” including the Inpatient Care Center, Child and Family Bereavement Center, Resource and Education Center, Spiritual Care Center and Outdoor Reflection Center.
With 36 spacious private suites designed to provide comfort and care to anyone in need, the hospice cares for terminally ill infants and children to adults and the elderly. Each suite has a bed-accessible patio at each level or balcony overlooking the lake and serene gardens, as well as a private family space with sleeping and dressing accommodations. Rooms also feature customizable audio feeds for favorite music or nature sounds and plenty of space for families to be with their loved ones for bedside vigils.
Families have access to a warm homelike atmosphere throughout the facility including dining room and great room, children’s play space, teen entertainment area featuring video game technology, exercise room, business center and library.
A collaborative approach during design and construction produced innovations and technical solutions that greatly improved the quality of this project. These included audio visual systems and nurse call systems along with centralized medical gas services. Systematic implementation of Lean principles in collaboration between the client, the design team and the construction team helped guide the project.
Another recent specialty expansion totaling 20,000 square feet took place at The Ronald McDonald House in Fort Worth, Texas. The not-for-profit agency that provides a “home away from home” for the families of seriously ill children added 20 new long-term stay suites, four short-term guest rooms and a “hearth room,” which includes a dining room, kitchen, small child playroom, chapel and game room. A light tower, known as the “Light of Love,” was also added. It serves as a beacon of hope and comfort for both parents and their seriously ill children.
The entire Ronald McDonald House facility now totals 40,000 square feet and has 53 rooms for guests. Lengths of stay are increasing due to advances in medicine. Where the average stay was three nights when the house first opened, and rooms could only accommodate three people, now, the average length of stay is over 11 nights — and some have stayed for more than 14 months.
The response to the new rooms has been so positive that planning is underway to upgrade the finishes in the existing rooms.
Patients receiving hospital treatments that last six weeks or longer and who stay in specialty hotel-like facilities, such as Rotary House and Ronald McDonald House, reduce the patient count and associated high cost of long-term hospital stays. By providing homelike environments, patients and caregivers are surrounded with comforts and amenities that help facilitate healing in a lower-cost environment.
The key to medical hotels and other specialty construction projects is providing an environment for the patient or family member that most closely simulates their home. Through careful planning and selection of materials during preconstruction, to implementing that design with the appropriate level of quality, the built physical environment can improve the qualitative experience of patients, family members and caregivers during a difficult time. Utilizing capital resources in this way changes the understanding of a more traditional return on investment.