Contract - Designing for Health: Widening a Natural Circle of Inclusion

design - essay



Designing for Health: Widening a Natural Circle of Inclusion

03 January, 2012

-By Amy Sickeler, RID, ISDA, LEED® AP ID+C, and Ila Burdett, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C



When Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital planned a new facility for its travelling hospice home care staff and 18 new inpatient beds, staff realized a golden opportunity to expand their outreach.  The 25-year old program had already earned the enduring loyalty of families throughout its 11-county service area. PPMH seized their chance to channel that well-spring of affection into Willson Hospice House, a new community magnet on a sustainable campus of 210 acres of forested wetlands in southwest Georgia.

By including so many stakeholders – patients, families, staff, community members, donors, volunteers, and visitors alike – and in setting the new building in a natural oasis, Willson Hospice exemplifies current holistic models of well-being.  Initiatives like The CARITAS Project emphasize the extension and invigoration of healthcare’s traditional relationships in a wider circle of interchange.  The CARITAS Project’s concept of generative space accomplishes its immediate functions and “also materially improves the health, healthcare, and quality of life” in a place where all participants flourish.  

Willson Hospice extends its commitment to the health of its natural surroundings and incorporates its extraordinary landscape’s therapeutic benefits.   The design team studied the property with a renowned local ecologist and implemented preservation measures for indigenous species like native atamasco lilies.  A one-mile walking trail loops the site perimeter, connecting the front courtyard, family gardens, and outdoor chapel with boardwalks and a viewing platform at the bird sanctuary.  Project development was restricted to only 14 acres, leaving 93.5% of the site unspoiled.  In recognition of its sensitive environmental stewardship, Audubon International named Willson a Silver Signature Sanctuary, the first and only healthcare facility ever to earn that designation.  Said Nancy Richardson, Director of AI’s Signature and Classic Programs, “To place such a facility within the natural environment where everyone can draw from that natural energy around them and recharge for their tasks ahead is an extraordinary measure.”

Architecturally, the 34,000 square foot hospice welcomes the community into its small-scale volumes, breaking down its overall massing into three approachable households, each organized around a family living room.  Simple geometric shapes with sloping gabled roofs and large eaves echo local agrarian buildings.  The building incorporates familiar materials like fieldstone, stained cedar, pine, and Douglas fir to impart texture and natural color.  It emphasizes transparency, opening views into the heavily treed woodland landscape.  Major gathering spaces like the lobby, family living rooms, chapel, sunroom, and multipurpose room have high exposed pine plank ceilings, glu-lam beams, and tall wood window walls.  In a healthcare world often polished with stainless steel and terrazzo, Willson Hospice offers a distinctively different warmer invitation.  

The CARITAS Project also emphasizes that “by its very nature, a generative space is a place that progressively and tangibly improves over time.”  Although Willson Hospice has been open only about 18 months, its benefits are on-going and measurable.  The program reaches previously unserved populations with appropriate, effective, and efficient inpatient palliative care.  More than a dozen patients each month are admitted directly from the local hospital, freeing the more expensive acute care beds for their intended use and expanding the parent hospital’s capacity.  The new inpatient setting also extends patient stays on the hospice service, lessens anxiety, and facilitates lower medication levels.  It provides a home base for Willson’s year-round slate of more than 75 educational and bereavement counseling meetings, encourages volunteerism, and aids families with crucially-needed relief.  More than 40% of the hospice’s admissions are for respite care.  

On September 20, 2011, The CARITAS Project recognized Willson Hospice, designating it the 2011 national “Place to Flourish.”  Presented by its founder, Dr. Wayne Ruga, at the Healthcare Facilities Symposium in Chicago, the distinction honors one project annually which best produces measurable, systemic and sustainable improvement in the health and well-being of individuals and communities.  “This award serves as validation that we accomplished what we sought to do, and that is to create an environment that allows our patients . . . to commune with nature while still integrating with the community,” said Joel Wernick, President/CEO of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

Perhaps most extraordinary have been the astonishing number and variety of community groups now active on Willson’s campus. Organizations ranging from the local chapter of the Rotary Club to members of the American Chestnut Society, from the Audubon Society birders to Eagle Scouts, from Darton Community College’s cross-country track team to the town cancer support group all convene, train, volunteer, and teach here.  Willson staff honor as many of the meeting requests as the facility can manage, recognizing each as an opportunity to broaden contacts.  Affection for the project has led to generous on-going contributions, continuing publicity, and an expanded referral base.   By offering its physical space and philosophy of care as a resource not only to patients and families, but also to its larger community, Willson Hospice is enhancing the quality of life for its entire region.

Suzanna MacIntosh, a local master gardener who has taught and lectured on campus comments, “Willson Hospice House is a very special facility which brings people together across all boundaries in our community . . . .   [It] provides patients and their families an opportunity to reconnect with the beauty and peace of the natural world and to remember that we all have a place in the universe.”  

    

Photos (top to bottom)

Photo 1: Willson Hospice House (chapel terrace looking into west courtyard) in Albany, Georgia
Photography: Jim Roof Creative, Inc.
Interior designer: Perkins+Will

Photo 2: Willson Hospice House site plan in Albany, Georgia
Drawing: Perkins+Will

Photo 3: Willson Hospice House patient room in Albany, Georgia
Photography: Jim Roof Creative, Inc.
Interior designer: Perkins+Will

Photo 4: Willson Hospice House (household pods at night) in Albany, Georgia
Photography: Jim Roof Creative Inc.
Interior designer: Perkins+Will


Amy Sickeler, RID, ISDA,  LEED®AP ID+C is a principal at Perkins+Will.  She serves as the director of design for the Atlanta office’s interiors department as well as the healthcare interiors practice leader for the office.  She can be reached at  amy.sickeler@perkinswill.com.

Ila Burdette, AIA, LEED®AP BD+C is an architecture principal at Perkins+Will in Atlanta, responsible for long term care design and research.  She can be reached at ila.burdette@perkinswill.com.

 

"Designing for Health" is a monthly, web-exclusive series from the healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments. Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):

- Mentoring the Next Generation of Healthcare Design Professionals
-
When the Professional Becomes the Patient--An Insider's Perspective
- The Evolving Role of the Design Professional Through Public Private Partnerships
Are Best Healthcare Design Practices Transferable to the Middle East? 
Best Strategies for the EDAC Exam
- Traditional Culture in a New World




Designing for Health: Widening a Natural Circle of Inclusion

03 January, 2012


Jim Roof Creative, Inc.

When Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital planned a new facility for its travelling hospice home care staff and 18 new inpatient beds, staff realized a golden opportunity to expand their outreach.  The 25-year old program had already earned the enduring loyalty of families throughout its 11-county service area. PPMH seized their chance to channel that well-spring of affection into Willson Hospice House, a new community magnet on a sustainable campus of 210 acres of forested wetlands in southwest Georgia.

By including so many stakeholders – patients, families, staff, community members, donors, volunteers, and visitors alike – and in setting the new building in a natural oasis, Willson Hospice exemplifies current holistic models of well-being.  Initiatives like The CARITAS Project emphasize the extension and invigoration of healthcare’s traditional relationships in a wider circle of interchange.  The CARITAS Project’s concept of generative space accomplishes its immediate functions and “also materially improves the health, healthcare, and quality of life” in a place where all participants flourish.  

Willson Hospice extends its commitment to the health of its natural surroundings and incorporates its extraordinary landscape’s therapeutic benefits.   The design team studied the property with a renowned local ecologist and implemented preservation measures for indigenous species like native atamasco lilies.  A one-mile walking trail loops the site perimeter, connecting the front courtyard, family gardens, and outdoor chapel with boardwalks and a viewing platform at the bird sanctuary.  Project development was restricted to only 14 acres, leaving 93.5% of the site unspoiled.  In recognition of its sensitive environmental stewardship, Audubon International named Willson a Silver Signature Sanctuary, the first and only healthcare facility ever to earn that designation.  Said Nancy Richardson, Director of AI’s Signature and Classic Programs, “To place such a facility within the natural environment where everyone can draw from that natural energy around them and recharge for their tasks ahead is an extraordinary measure.”

Architecturally, the 34,000 square foot hospice welcomes the community into its small-scale volumes, breaking down its overall massing into three approachable households, each organized around a family living room.  Simple geometric shapes with sloping gabled roofs and large eaves echo local agrarian buildings.  The building incorporates familiar materials like fieldstone, stained cedar, pine, and Douglas fir to impart texture and natural color.  It emphasizes transparency, opening views into the heavily treed woodland landscape.  Major gathering spaces like the lobby, family living rooms, chapel, sunroom, and multipurpose room have high exposed pine plank ceilings, glu-lam beams, and tall wood window walls.  In a healthcare world often polished with stainless steel and terrazzo, Willson Hospice offers a distinctively different warmer invitation.  

The CARITAS Project also emphasizes that “by its very nature, a generative space is a place that progressively and tangibly improves over time.”  Although Willson Hospice has been open only about 18 months, its benefits are on-going and measurable.  The program reaches previously unserved populations with appropriate, effective, and efficient inpatient palliative care.  More than a dozen patients each month are admitted directly from the local hospital, freeing the more expensive acute care beds for their intended use and expanding the parent hospital’s capacity.  The new inpatient setting also extends patient stays on the hospice service, lessens anxiety, and facilitates lower medication levels.  It provides a home base for Willson’s year-round slate of more than 75 educational and bereavement counseling meetings, encourages volunteerism, and aids families with crucially-needed relief.  More than 40% of the hospice’s admissions are for respite care.  

On September 20, 2011, The CARITAS Project recognized Willson Hospice, designating it the 2011 national “Place to Flourish.”  Presented by its founder, Dr. Wayne Ruga, at the Healthcare Facilities Symposium in Chicago, the distinction honors one project annually which best produces measurable, systemic and sustainable improvement in the health and well-being of individuals and communities.  “This award serves as validation that we accomplished what we sought to do, and that is to create an environment that allows our patients . . . to commune with nature while still integrating with the community,” said Joel Wernick, President/CEO of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

Perhaps most extraordinary have been the astonishing number and variety of community groups now active on Willson’s campus. Organizations ranging from the local chapter of the Rotary Club to members of the American Chestnut Society, from the Audubon Society birders to Eagle Scouts, from Darton Community College’s cross-country track team to the town cancer support group all convene, train, volunteer, and teach here.  Willson staff honor as many of the meeting requests as the facility can manage, recognizing each as an opportunity to broaden contacts.  Affection for the project has led to generous on-going contributions, continuing publicity, and an expanded referral base.   By offering its physical space and philosophy of care as a resource not only to patients and families, but also to its larger community, Willson Hospice is enhancing the quality of life for its entire region.

Suzanna MacIntosh, a local master gardener who has taught and lectured on campus comments, “Willson Hospice House is a very special facility which brings people together across all boundaries in our community . . . .   [It] provides patients and their families an opportunity to reconnect with the beauty and peace of the natural world and to remember that we all have a place in the universe.”  

    

Photos (top to bottom)

Photo 1: Willson Hospice House (chapel terrace looking into west courtyard) in Albany, Georgia
Photography: Jim Roof Creative, Inc.
Interior designer: Perkins+Will

Photo 2: Willson Hospice House site plan in Albany, Georgia
Drawing: Perkins+Will

Photo 3: Willson Hospice House patient room in Albany, Georgia
Photography: Jim Roof Creative, Inc.
Interior designer: Perkins+Will

Photo 4: Willson Hospice House (household pods at night) in Albany, Georgia
Photography: Jim Roof Creative Inc.
Interior designer: Perkins+Will


Amy Sickeler, RID, ISDA,  LEED®AP ID+C is a principal at Perkins+Will.  She serves as the director of design for the Atlanta office’s interiors department as well as the healthcare interiors practice leader for the office.  She can be reached at  amy.sickeler@perkinswill.com.

Ila Burdette, AIA, LEED®AP BD+C is an architecture principal at Perkins+Will in Atlanta, responsible for long term care design and research.  She can be reached at ila.burdette@perkinswill.com.

 

"Designing for Health" is a monthly, web-exclusive series from the healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments. Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):

- Mentoring the Next Generation of Healthcare Design Professionals
-
When the Professional Becomes the Patient--An Insider's Perspective
- The Evolving Role of the Design Professional Through Public Private Partnerships
Are Best Healthcare Design Practices Transferable to the Middle East? 
Best Strategies for the EDAC Exam
- Traditional Culture in a New World

 


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