Gresham Smith’s Federal Healthcare and Research and Insights Programs Support Collaborative Opportunities with the Department of Veterans Affairs
At Gresham Smith, our employees are diverse in experience, yet also have one essential thing in common: genuine care for each other, our partners and our clients. We strive to always produce top results and meet the needs of our communities, thus developing resources to ensure the continual success of that goal. In honor of Veterans Day, we are highlighting a program within our Healthcare market, called Research and Insights (R&I), which demonstrates the importance of both diverse employee experiences and a genuine care for our clients—in this case, veterans nationwide.
R&I uses a human-centered approach to apply design strategies that are collaborative, empathetic and focused around the people at the center of a problem to be solved. Our team, employing a diverse array of experience, actively engages clients in the research process as we review, test, and offer solutions that will enhance the human experience and operational efficiencies within the healthcare-built environment. We also uniquely and specifically use our firsthand knowledge and connections with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to further raise the bar on the quality of our research and results. Meet some of our VA-connected members on the R&I team and learn how they’re helping to provide exemplary service to elevate Veterans’ healthcare facilities nationwide.
Mike Neuser, MSM
Federal Healthcare Practice Leader
A veteran of the United States Navy and Healthcare Senior Vice President, Mike Neuser, leads Gresham Smith’s federal Healthcare practice. With over two decades of experience in federal healthcare, he has spent his career cultivating strategic partnerships, understanding the needs of clients, and working on countless projects to enhance the quality of care offered by the Veterans Health Administration.
“As a veteran myself and program lead, I’m pleased to champion the firm’s high quality healthcare design and how it can benefit those in the federal healthcare system,” Neuser said. “Applying Gresham Smith’s design expertise to improve the patient experience for our active-duty military members, veterans, and their families is truly meaningful and rewarding work. Thank you to our core team of professionals and support personnel helping grow this program.”
Within the firm, Mike has developed a core team of professionals dedicated to federal healthcare projects nationally, and currently includes four Department of Veterans Affairs’ Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) located in Lakeland, Florida, Chesapeake, Virginia, Keene, New Hampshire and Burlington, Vermont.
“As a veteran myself and program lead, I’m pleased to champion the firm’s high quality healthcare design and how it can benefit those in the federal healthcare system.”
Lesa Lorusso, Ph.D., MBA, MSArch, RID, Allied AIA
Healthcare Director of Research and Insights
Also on the team is Healthcare Director of Research and Insights Lesa N. Lorusso, Ph.D., MBA, MSArch, RID, Allied AIA, a firmwide resource at Gresham Smith. She collaborates with the Healthcare team to facilitate human-centered design, development and implementation of research strategy and scalable tools for knowledge-sharing among healthcare planners and designers.
“It’s an honor to collaborate with the VA in leading-edge research supporting quality of life for veterans,” said Lorusso. “This research is close to home for me as part of an extended military family—my grandfathers, grandmother, both parents and my brother have served in the Army, AirForce, Marines and the Navy.”
Lorusso also develops external collaborative partnerships and has engaged in research funded by the Veterans Health Administration and the American Institute of Architects. In collaboration with the University of Florida, she was the principal investigator for a clinical trial with the VA investigating multisensory environments (MSE) for people with dementia. The purpose of the study, “Investigating the Impact of Multisensory Environments for People with Dementia,” was to further investigate environmental behavioral interventions for people with dementia to improve quality of care. The research examines VA care staff’s perceptions of MSE and its impact on the behavior of veterans with dementia. The exemplary research resulted in the Environmental Design Research Association’s (ERDA) Certificate of Research Excellence (CORE) with Merit status in 2019. Findings from this study have made our team a leader in MSE design and our teams integrate the findings from the study into VA and non-VA behavioral health applications.
“This research is close to home for me as part of an extended military family—my grandfathers, grandmother, both parents and my brother have served in the Army, AirForce, Marines and the Navy.”
Tatiana Orozco, Ph.D.
Healthcare Research Analyst
Leading our firm’s quantitative initiatives is Tatiana Orozco, PhD, a healthcare research analyst. Prior to joining Gresham Smith, she spent eight years with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a statistician and research health scientist. She brings expertise in social psychology, psychometrics, biostatistics, and healthcare services utilization to the Healthcare team. Her strengths center on quantitative research and analysis methods.
Orozco currently collaborates on multiple projects with VA colleagues and has coauthored five scientific journal articles from those studies within this year alone. Many of these studies focus on population health, clinical trials, database analytics, and other studies which assess the effectiveness of interventions and federal programs, or otherwise track and model outcomes important to VA. For example, one recent study refined a strategy for better identifying veterans likely to develop advanced chronic kidney disease. Improving risk detection allows for improved prediction of healthcare services utilization, which in turn improves the ability to proactively address needs—a value shared by both VA and Gresham Smith.
“I learned so much from my time at VA and met many wonderful people, so I was very pleased to be encouraged to maintain those connections after joining Gresham Smith,” said Orozco. “Because I did not previously have a background in the A/E industry, I had often overlooked the impact of the built environment on quality of care. Being exposed to this new perspective and framework has been so beneficial in my work to serve those who served our country, as well as their families and caregivers.”
“I learned so much from my time at VA and met many wonderful people, so I was very pleased to be encouraged to maintain those connections after joining Gresham Smith.”
Additionally, VA’s “Home Improvements and Structural Alterations” (HISA) program provides funding to eligible veterans with disability to make medically necessary improvements and structural changes to their homes. A group of researchers at VA undertook a multi-study research project to evaluate the HISA program, utilizing Tatiana as the quantitative lead in this research program. These sorts of collaborations with VA help to keep the R&I team current on scientific research which either directly or indirectly relates to healthcare A/E best practices and innovation.
Our experience and connections to Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense set us apart, as those relationships keep our firm informed about current federal healthcare priorities. Thanks to our experience working on VA research, we understand the high level of scientific rigor, along with the importance of their values and culture, which strengthens our ability to partner effectively with federal clients and enables us to implement those same standards at Gresham Smith.
Additional Non-VA Research Projects Conducted by R&I Team
- The M.T. Mustian Center, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare’s (TMH) new surgery and critical care tower, provides state-of-the-art critical care services with cutting-edge adult intensive care units to meet the growing demand in the region. Gresham Smith worked with TMH from inception to completion, using Lean design and a research-backed, human-centered approach to develop a master plan that would anticipate the region’s needs for the next 50 years with a building that could adapt to emerging technologies as well as growth.
- Research suggests that the built environment may help reduce burnout, so our research team conducted a study with the primary goal of understanding nurse perception of breaks and the ways in which building design and culture impact the frequency, duration, and location of nurse breaks.
- Using the facilities at UF Health North (UFHN) in Jacksonville, Florida, our Healthcare Research & Innovation team partnered with an acoustical consultant to take measurements of the existing reverberant conditions and sound levels within their ORs. Based on our research, design implications to reduce noise levels may include using sound-absorbing materials with infection prevention capability on OR walls and ceilings, as well as assessing room size, configuration, and equipment placement to reduce reverberation time.