The Provider’s Perspective
LifePoint’s Clark Regional Medical Center in Kentucky, which opened in March, proves efficient, effective design can also be beautiful.
Ed O’Dell spends his days working out the best way to deliver efficient, cost effective, high quality healthcare that works well for patients, families, physicians and staff. No easy task, but it’s one the vice president of Capital Assets and Construction for LifePoint Hospitals relishes.
“At LifePoint, our vision is to create a culture and physical environment where patients want to come to be treated, where families want to bring their loved ones to be treated, and where physicians and employees want to work … and the design of the facility has a great impact on all three of those,” he explained.
Over the years, the Brentwood-based executive has worked on numerous projects across the country. One of the most recent builds was just north of Nashville in Winchester, Ky. where LifePoint opened the $60 million replacement facility for Clark Regional Medical Center this past March.
While there is no such thing as an inexpensive facility project, O’Dell said, “With the changing economy and healthcare environment, hospitals and health systems are being required to do more with less.”
He was quick to add that being more efficient and cost effective doesn’t mean a project can’t have cutting-edge technology or be aesthetically pleasing. In fact, the 79-bed Clark Regional features enhanced health information technology capabilities, an Emergency Department with 22 private exam and treating rooms, a Radiology Department with the latest diagnostic capabilities, a 25-bed skilled nursing facility with therapy gym, a luxurious Center for Women and Babies that includes whirlpool tubs and beds featuring Tempur-Pedic® mattresses, community rooms, courtyards and a chef’s garden.
O’Dell called Clark Regional the “epitome of the next generation hospital.” He noted the one-level, 131,000 square-foot hospital, designed by Louisville-based Stengel Hill Architecture, utilizes a ‘central spine’ concept.
“It’s kind of a boulevard, if you will, that goes down to intersections where the departments are directly off the central spine,” explained O’Dell. He added the design not only enhances way-finding, but it also incorporates public and non-public corridors, which shortens travel distances and allows staff to get where they need to be more efficiently.
It also solves a frustration many have experienced while navigating a multi-story hospital. “We’ve eliminated the congestion with the vertical transportation,” said O’Dell … which translates to no waiting for an elevator to arrive.
Clark Regional also became Kentucky’s first hospital with a 100 percent geothermal heating and cooling system, which is anticipated to be 33 percent more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly than the traditional HVAC system in the hospital’s old facility. In addition, O’Dell said the facility used a low UV glass that greatly reduces heat transference, incorporated lightweight insulating concrete in the roof system and utilized a newer expanding foam insulation to maximize energy efficiency.
“Over the past several years, there has been a very large interest by the public and the government in sustainability,” noted O’Dell. “In hospitals, we have been doing this for decades because we own and operate hospitals … being ‘green’ means being efficient.”
That said, he cautioned not every green option works well at every site. The geothermal system, for example, requires enough land to have a field of wells and could be cost prohibitive when trying to retrofit an existing site.
“It is more expensive,” he said. “I’m not sure we would have been able to justify doing this if it were not for tax incentives offered because of the energy efficiency.”
In fact, O’Dell said the estimate was that it would take at least five years to recoup the initial investment through gained energy efficiency, but the savings have been surprising so far. “Eastern Kentucky has almost perfect conditions for geothermal energy with the strata of rock and soil and water that really enhances heat transference.” He added, “Early indications are that we will beat the five-year estimate by a significant margin.”
While O’Dell said facility design projects must maximize a building’s efficiency for high-tech healthcare delivery, he added the high-touch elements … lighting, interior design, color choices, connections to nature … are what brings warmth to projects that could easily feel cold and sterile.
“Healthcare delivery is a very person-to-person endeavor. It’s very hands-on, and it’s all about the people.” At the end of the day, he concluded, “We are trying to design environments that the patient and public are comfortable in and where the staff and physicians can best perform their responsibilities.”