The aim of THR and UT Southwestern Frisco Campus’ Health Facilitator was to show how a facility embedded within a community can encourage wellness, preventative care, and proactive behavior for the surrounding population instead of the typical reactive model of seeking care after illness or injury occurs. Thoughtful design strategies and incorporation of mixed-use spaces intend to change the view of the facility from a hospital or institution to one that is more integrated into the community.
Texas Health Resources (THR) and UT Southwestern have committed to extending their presence in North Texas by developing a greenfield site in the booming suburb of Frisco. The project scope includes 300,000 square feet of hospital space, 120,000 square feet of medical office space, and structured parking. The hospital will focus on community health and provide 72 patient beds with the ability to add an additional 60 beds. Twelve of these beds are dedicated to Labor and Delivery along with eight neonatal critical beds so that the health system can connect with the young families and emphasize wellness early in life.
The challenge was to integrate a major healthcare institution into a newly emerging community on the outskirts of a major city. A driving force of the design was a relabeling of the traditional “hospital” to a “health facilitator.” Through this relabeling, the design team was challenged to reimagine the function and role of a healthcare provider. Additionally, the physical environment had to respond to this new focus by incorporating meaningful outdoor spaces, pedestrian-oriented programs, and mixed-use community spaces. While patient care is still the paramount priority of the hospital, these community-oriented functions had to be carefully integrated into the daily operations.
To efficiently evaluate the best strategies for integrating into a suburban community, the design team began by evaluating a similar THR facility, using a mini design diagnostic tool. This involved intensive shadowing of staff to evaluate how the operations and design affect the standard of care. This approach allowed the design team to take away valuable lessons about effectively integrating into a suburban context. As a result, the site was organized to open up to the community, provide walkability and fitnessrelated activity by strategically locating walking paths and extending preserved greenspace towards the surrounding neighborhoods.
The breezeway space, between the hospital and medical office building, invites visitors and staff to take advantage of its shade and direct connection to the health food café inside. The heavy timber columns and local vegetation under the canopy also help to support the health benefits related to biophilia through a meaningful connection to nature. Level 1 of the facility was intentionally planned with dual-use spaces to support the hospital’s and community’s needs. For example, the same space that might be purposed for inpatient and outpatient rehabilitative therapies during the daytime transitions to a location for fitness classes and intramural sports during the evening hours.
This big idea proposes more targeted, community-based hospitals distributed within and among neighborhoods. These health facilitators would be smaller in scale than the traditional model but appropriately sized for the community served. The opportunity then exists to tailor the wellness and preventative care strategies for each community so that each facilitator becomes an integral component of the health and longevity of its people. Measurable intent has been rigorously documented throughout the design process, based on existing evidence, so that at designated points after occupancy the impact of specific design strategies can be evaluated through a post-occupancy evaluation.
Comparing the intended data based on design intent with the actual data collected through design implementation allowed the healthcare organizations to understand the progress made towards healthier individuals and the movement towards population health through higher-level public health and clinical metrics. This begs the question: What if a population of people experienced less heart disease, fewer cases of diabetes, reduced need for prescription drugs, or even an overall reduction of obesity simply because a hospital/health facilitator was present in the community?