The completion of the $14 million Indian River Medical Center Scully-Welsh Cancer Center in Vero Beach, Fla., finally gave locals a reason to stay in town for their treatment.
“This is a small community hospital. They are a single hospital health network, only about 300 beds,” said Jonathan Bykowski, lead planner on the project with Array Architects. “They are not a major player, but they are in a part of the state where there isn't access to robust cancer care.”
Rather than continue to send patients away, the hospital enlisted Array to develop a 20,000-square-foot addition to the existing radiation oncology pavilion as well as integrate the outdoor environment into the space.
To accomplish that goal, the firm had to balance the sensitivity some cancer patients have to sunlight with the desire to bring in natural light and create outdoor spaces. The design includes floor-to-ceiling windows and infusion suites that provide a close-up view of the gardens.
Design award judge Mary Frazier, of EwingCole, noted that each examination room had a direct view of nature, a difficult feat to accomplish.
“We know more today that views of nature, that access to nature, are important elements in healing and can decrease length of stay, said judge Cecilia DeLoach Lynn of Practice Greenhealth. “You're seeing the design community really build on it.”
The architecture firm used deep Lean process analysis when designing the workflow and was able to shave 45 minutes off patients' infusion treatments at the cancer center.
The design choices also give control back to cancer patients and their families.
“The staff is able to operate as patients exercise their own control within their predefined parameters,” Bykowski said. “It's set up so there's a lot of microchoices that patients and their family members can make during their treatment,” such as privacy preferences and degrees of staff interaction.
Lead designer Kent Doss of Array noted that those design choices “rehumanize the process” of going through cancer treatment.
Judge Todd Robinson, of ESa, sums it up best: “It took advantage of evidence-based information but it also enhanced views of natural landscaping, utilized the outdoors as well as the indoors as a seamless design element.”