Kathy’s House, a nonprofit hospital guest house in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, has opened a new 30,000-square foot, two-level facility on the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center grounds, adjacent to the Froedtert Hospital. Celebrating 20 years, Kathy’s House has provided affordable lodging for thousands of people traveling to the Milwaukee area for medical treatment.
Breaking ground in May of 2020, the new “Home for Healing” welcomed its first guests in June 2021.
The design team, along with key Kathy’s House leadership, staff, board members and former and current guests, focused the project around the Eight Dimensions of Wellness model by Dr. Margaret Swarbrick — emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational and social — as a guide in their design process. These elements are seen throughout the facility’s amenities as patients and families can enjoy and explore areas outside of their rooms and interact with others in a variety of welcoming areas, including large- and small-scaled seating areas, a library, communal kitchen and dining area, business center, fitness center, a meditation room and family area.
Each of the 36 short- and long-stay guest suites were carefully designed to make the spaces feel like more than a hotel room. For example, in addition to two beds per room in twin, double or queen sizes, rooms have ample closet space, as well as comfortable chairs and workspaces, and the long-stay suites feature kitchenettes. To create a home-like environment, the design team focused on details such as providing operable windows in guest rooms and incorporating skylights to draw in as much fresh air and light from the outside, with views to the outdoors and the surrounding landscape.
Outside, there is a large courtyard with garden spaces for guests to enjoy, a walking trail that rings the site and an outdoor sitting deck overlooking the courtyard and ponds beyond. There are also seating areas at the front of the house to provide a variety of lighting conditions and a sense of home and welcomeness.
Unique to hospital guest houses like Kathy’s House, the new house has a separate wing for immunocompromised patients. Additionally, if a patient has a minor medical need, such as a blood draw or telehealth visit, an inpatient medical space was also incorporated into the design, allowing guests to stay at Kathy’s House rather than go to the hospital.
With a draw to sustainability, Home for Healing has large solar arrays on each wing’s roof that provide 40% of the facility’s total energy needs, significantly reducing annual electricity costs.
The project team included HGA, Froedtert, CG Schmidt, Kohler Hospitality and Legacy Solar, among others.