× You are not currently logged in. To receive all the benefits our site has to offer, we encourage you to log in now.

San Juan Regional Medical Center

October 2012
Member Project
Kahler Slater


Firm's role on the project: Planning, Programming, Architecture, Design, Interiors 


Project Mission and Vision

Believing that the healing professional’s vitality is paramount to creating the best patient experiences and outcomes, Kahler Slater successfully worked with San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, New Mexico to leverage their major capital project into an opportunity to shift their culture and workplace. Kahler Slater assisted every step along the way, even their highly successful capital fundraising campaign which included countywide increase to the gross receipts tax.

The resulting tower represents the incorporation of latest technology with a deep respect for diverse beliefs and spiritual traditions – as well as a love for the dramatic New Mexico landscape in the Four Corners area. Design cues and materials are taken from the vernacular architecture of the region. Sustainable design strategies were incorporated in the project, including deep overhangs and screened porches which reduce the cooling load and offset the cost of these unusual amenities.

The project is designed with experience in mind. Staff amenities include dedicated parking, entry, fitness center, on-call suites, and screened respite porches. A separate staff cafeteria also provides healthy cuisine, as well as additional privacy so they can relax “off stage,” and recoup their energies before returning “on stage” to help their patients and their families.

The patient experience includes a new entrance, lobby, public cafe and retail, with a focus on the healing garden. In addition to private individual respite, the garden’s gathering terrace has hosted many diverse celebrations. Seventy two new private inpatient bedrooms support family and access to nature through the provision of screened porches. Each care unit features a library, private consult rooms, family lounge, kitchen and circular meditation room, inspired by the design of a Navajo Hogan.

The outcomes are remarkable. Staff, physician, patient satisfaction and recruiting success increased significantly as staff turnover declined. Workman’s compensation claims and noise levels decreased. Perhaps most importantly, patients’ average length-of-stay, infection rates, falls and mortality are all significantly reduced creating a more healing environment for those who come to give and receive care in this facility.

Research Used and Lessons Learned

Kahler Slater conducted a multi-year research study to assess, compare and evaluate the existing and planned physical environments from the patient and nursing staff perspectives. The study was conducted through descriptive, comparative and multi-method research to test two hypothesis regarding the planned physical environment: It is an improvement over the existing physical environment; It reflects the mission of the hospital - to provide personalized healthcare to patients and create enthusiasm and vitality in healing among staff. Specifically, study goals were to obtain a detailed understanding of the specific ways in which the new environment:


  1. Is an improvement over the existing facility for patients and staff
  2. Incorporates environmental factors characteristic of healing environments
  3. Operates one year post-occupancy