Earl Swensson Associates
Firm's role on the project: Create a soothing comfortable environment.
To create a soothing, comfortable environment that would envelope patients and families and function well for the center's staff, while providing ease of access for patients. To design efficiencies that would translate to fast response times and streamlining of service lines that would lead to cost reduction.
The first of its kind in the region, the 32,873 square foot cancer center provides state-of-the-art radiation therapy, chemotherapy, clinical research, and support services. Twenty chair infusion pods are in a spa-like environment overlooking an outdoor healing garden. Radiation oncology is equipped with a linear accelerator and a CT simulator. On-site clinical research space allows patients the opportunity to participate in cancer research studies. HopeCircle, unique to the NEA Baptist Cancer Center, is a free NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation program that supports patients and families with cancer.
One-size-does-not-fit-all for every patient cancer treatment and care. Some cancer patients prefer privacy regarding their conditions and during treatments, while others want to socialize for support.
The achievement of privacy, while maintaining flexibility of openness for socialization was a challenge in the overall design of the facility for the design team. Particularly challenging was providing both options for the 20 infusion bays.
Having a freestanding cancer care center on the medical campus allows cancer patients, whose immune systems are compromised, to have a private experience that is away from transmission of possible viruses or other illnesses that might be associated with the campus hospital and clinic. Parking is near the front door for easy navigation.
To offer treatment privacy, the interior design team custom designed floor-to-ceiling cubicle curtain storage within cabinetry that separates chemotherapy infusion bays, which are in pods of five. When patients want privacy during infusion, the side door on the cabinetry in each bay can be opened, and the curtains pulled out and across to conceal the patient. The infusion lounge chairs are equipped with small monitors, empowering patients with control to watch their choice of television shows, should they not desire to socialize with other infusion patients.
When not in use, the cubicle curtains are out of sight. Openness between the bays then allows a sense of community among the patients. For optimal light transfer, aesthetics, and a connection to the regional area, translucent 3form panels in the cabinetry encapsulate indigenous plant life.
These 3form panels with alternate open spaces are also included in the nurse work areas. The infusion chairs back up to these panels. This allows the nursing staff to watch patients during the infusion process and still provide them a sense of privacy.
The space for HopeCircle anchors the front of the center and is rounded and immediately adjacent to the lobby waiting space. Extensive programming for the space yielded boutique shelving for the display of wigs, scarves, and multiple reference sources. With sensitivity to the patient experience, evidence-based design concepts helped influence the project's design to include natural light throughout the facility, spaces focused on patient and family-centered care, and human touch and interaction.
In the first year, patient satisfaction scores rose to an unprecedented level, to the 73rd percentile in the nation when compared with other cancer centers. The scores of the previous location were below 50. Additionally, staff report increased visits to the HopeCircle area because it represents a calm haven next to the lobby waiting area.