Seeking to improve healthcare services to residents of growing Hillsborough County, BayCare Health System tasked GS&P with providing facility master planning for a full-service acute care hospital to be situated on a 72-acre site just south of Tampa in Riverview, Florida. Following the successful master planning efforts, BayCare hired GS&P to lead a multidisciplinary team to design the 335,000-square-foot, 90-bed hospital—St. Joseph’s Hospital-South—as well as an adjoining 85,000-square-foot medical office building. BayCare desired to create a spa-like environment different from the traditional medical facility that provided a variety of amenities supporting hospitality, comfort and a healing environment.
“The project had been a vision of the client’s since they first purchased the property in the 1980s,” explains senior architect and project manager Christina Wilson. “To develop a successful design, we worked closely with hospital administrators, building on GS&P’s previous master planning analyses as well as lessons learned from St. Joseph’s Hospital-North, which had recently been completed when we started our initial design work.”
During the planning process, the client established several key goals for the project, from creating a patient- and family-focused facility to accommodating future growth—a major design driver. Project designer Jim Kolb explains:
“With the community’s population on the rise, our design had to anticipate the type of growth that might occur and do so in a way that wouldn’t be disruptive to hospital services. We achieved this by developing an open-ended design that allows for horizontal growth of virtually every component of the hospital, including emergency, diagnostic and interventional services. We also designed the bed tower so that multiple wings can be added, giving the client the flexibility to go from a 90-bed hospital to a 350-bed facility.”
“The attached medical office building was also an important element of the client’s growth strategy,” adds principal-in-charge Matt Harrell. “We specifically designed it to be hospital-grade, so in the future they can move into that building as a hospital and then construct an additional MOB to the north.”
Another vital part of the planning process was siting the hospital on the expansive greenfield site.
“We carefully positioned the building to protect dozens of acres of native wetlands to the south and the north of the facility,” says Wilson. “The preserved natural areas provide a habitat for various species of wildlife and vegetation, and offer a stunning surrounding environment for the campus as well as the community.”
Putting the Hospitality in Hospital
St. Joseph’s hospitals have been delivering high-quality healthcare to the community since 1934 and are known for making patients and families as comfortable as possible during their hospital experience. GS&P’s design continues this tradition of excellence by creating a soothing, spa-like environment featuring interior finishes accented by sleek, crisp lines and a calming color palette.
“The patient and family experience is the first and foremost priority with every aspect of the design,” says Wilson. “From the spa-like interiors to the lushly landscaped gardens to the hospital’s strategic positioning that maximizes views of the site, we strived to represent the client’s goals of quality, comfort and serenity.”
“When you enter the building, it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into a hospital. It feels more like a five-star hotel—warm, welcoming and relaxing,” notes interior designer Carrie Kovacs. “We paid special attention to the amenities within the hospital. The waiting areas are open and comfortable and feature views of nature through large windows and artwork, which creates a soothing environment to help ease anxiety for family members during a typically stressful time. The design also includes an inviting courtyard area between the hospital and MOB, and a café where patients and visitors are offered a wide variety of food choices, including healthy options.”
To further support hospitality, comfort and convenience, each private patient room includes a sofa bed and recliner as well as a relaxation area and outlets for computers and phones. Exterior views to the surrounding landscape provide a calming environment for patients and families during their stay. A unique headwall design conceals medical gas utilities behind decorative artwork, creating a less clinical atmosphere.
Designed with Everyone in Mind
Along with creating a patient- and family-centered environment, providing an atmosphere that staff and physicians can enjoy was also a key client goal.
“Frequently, the accommodations we make for families and patients in our designs also serve staff and physicians equally well relative to creating a restorative environment,” says Kolb. “For example, there is a general pattern in the form of the hospital building that allows it to maximize daylight and views of nature in the interior spaces. The overarching goal of this concept is to improve the quality of the environment not only for patients and families but for all populations.”
Design features supporting quality of environment include antimicrobial carpet in the corridors as well as wall-wash lighting fixtures that reduce light-glare on patients as they’re being transferred by staff. The use of technology to minimize overhead paging creates an acoustically ideal environment for both patients and staff. The focus on staff satisfaction extended equally to areas patients never see.
“Facilities staff had input on the selection and layout of the hospital’s central energy plant,” notes Wilson. “This resulted in a plant that is both efficient and provides an enjoyable work atmosphere for this dedicated arm of the team.”
A Circulatory System at the Heart
Providing separate circulation paths for patients and staff was also pivotal to the quality of the end-user experience. Kolb explains the planning process:
“The hospital was planned so the front-of-house main concourse connects the MOB, main entrance and ED, while back-of-house circulation connects the back of the ED and imaging with differentiated staff and patient elevators and back-of-house departments, such as the lab and materials management.
“On the upper floors, the circulation paths maintain separation of public and staff. Public elevators open at the family waiting areas at each level. Staff elevators open up to circulation that connects to surgery and labor and delivery on the second level, as well as to staff work areas on each floor. They also provide direct access to patient rooms on the third and fourth levels for patient transport.”
In the hospital’s emergency department, staff use a dedicated interior loop, which feeds into exam rooms from one direction. Patients and guests use an exterior loop, which feeds into exam rooms from another direction while providing separation from back-of-house operations.
“Separating public and staff circulation is critical for many reasons,” says Wilson. “As a patient or visitor, you can get directly to the patient rooms through the public corridor without seeing back-of-house traffic, such as patients being wheeled to surgery. That makes a huge difference when it comes to your experience of walking through that space. It saves patients and visitors from being unnecessarily exposed to a lot of upsetting traffic.”
Setting Systemwide Standards
Bringing much-needed inpatient and outpatient services to the southern region of Hillsborough County, the new St. Joseph’s Hospital-South was opened to the public in 2015 to enormous support from the surrounding community. During its opening year, the facility exceeded its goals for patient volumes in all departments. In January 2016, the hospital’s capacity was at a rate of 88 percent, prompting BayCare Health System to return to GS&P to begin the development of design for expanded capacity.
“The response from the community during the hospital’s first year of operation is a direct outcome of the client’s commitment to provide not just a hospital building but an asset for the community that creates an environment for healing and family support,” says Wilson. “It’s an honor to be associated with a project you can be incredibly proud of and that the community has truly embraced.”
“The way we delivered this project set several systemwide standards for BayCare,” adds Harrell. “From small things like adopting our sheet-number system for all their projects to their implementation of our signage and wayfinding design throughout the system, we brought value to the client well beyond our successful delivery of the project.”