The Client Perspective: Healthcare Design

Hartford Healthcare / Photo by Carl Vernlund

Submitted by QA+M Architecture

QA+M Architecture recently merged with Moser Pilon Nelson Architects from Wethersfield, Conn., joining together two of the top ten architectural firms in the greater Hartford Region. The merger expands a wealth of healthcare knowledge and experience throughout New England to create a team with the ability to provide design services for all types of healthcare projects.

We recently chatted with client Donna Rizzio, CEO of Hartford Orthopedic Surgeons, about the multiple healthcare locations designed by QA+M. Our design solutions needed to fulfill her mission to demonstrate Hartford Orthopedics’ level of care through supportive and welcoming places. In this conversation, we reflected on how design influences the practitioner and patient experience. Here’s what she had to say:

Hartford Orthopedic Surgeons / Photo by Carl Vernlund

QA+M: Can you share examples of patient and practitioner satisfaction related to design?

Donna Rizzio: Absolutely. We gave much thought to each location, its clientele, and practitioners. The facility design contributes to the overall patient experience and ultimately their pleasure with our practices. The non-clinical welcoming environments decreases patient nervousness. Patients are pleasantly surprised by the ambiance of each facility. Paint color names are often requested by patients – a true testament to their fondness for the interior if they want to bring the office’s colors home!

QA+M: How do you think layout effects the patient and provider experience?

DR: The patient experience is hinged on the thoughtful placement of patient centric spaces such as the check in and check out desks, restrooms, and exam and X-ray room proximity to the waiting areas. Combined with strategic placement of signage, patients can easily navigate each site regardless of layout. The proximity of exam and procedure rooms to physician and medical assistant workspaces provides efficiencies for staff, resulting in reduced waiting time for patients. The layout of the facility ultimately projects confidence and ease for patient care.

QA+M: From initial space planning, interior finish selections, through construction to final occupancy, what is your favorite part of the design process?

DR: It’s actually the entire process. From working lunches to discussing possible sites to test fitting possible layouts, to interior finish and artwork selection. Each experience is meaningful. I love when the floor plan is worked out and feels “just right.”

VA In-patient Health Care in West Haven / Photo courtesy of Moser Pilon Nelson

QA+M: What was the most challenging aspect of the design process?

DR: Timing the move-in dates and coordinating all the details required to get the site up and running. Everything from the final construction punch list to furniture and equipment and IT delivery and set-up must be carefully timed and planned for minimal patient disruption. If a location is moving from one facility to another, the lease ending schedule must be carefully planned and maintained.

QA+M: Which site and design are you most proud of?

DR: They all turned out fantastic and I must admit the Rocky Hill location is my favorite. It was the third office we collaborated with QA+M on and it includes a progression of ideas and standard design tenets that were incorporated in previous facilities.

At QA+M, healthcare design is led by Principal Jim Bell, AIA, ACHA. The Hartford Orthopedic projects were led by Interior Design Director and Associate Principal Rebecca Sarkosi, IIDA. Hartford Healthcare’s new West Hartford location was managed by Associate Principal Angela Cahill, AIA.