When Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital planned a brand new facility for its travelling hospice home care staff and 18 new inpatient beds, staff realized a golden opportunity to expand their outreach. The 25-year old program had already earned the long-lasting loyalty of families throughout its 11-county service area. PPMH seized their chance to channel that well-spring of love into Willson Hospice House, a brand new community magnet on a sustainable campus of 210 acres of forested wetlands in southwest Georgia.
By including such a lot of stakeholders – patients, families, staff, community members, donors, volunteers, and visitors alike – and in setting the hot building in a natural oasis, Willson Hospice exemplifies current holistic models of well-being. Initiatives just like the CARITAS Project emphasize the extension and invigoration of healthcare’s traditional relationships in a much wider circle of interchange. The CARITAS Project’s concept of generative space accomplishes its immediate functions and “also materially improves the health, healthcare, and quality of life” in a spot where all participants flourish.
Willson Hospice extends its commitment to the health of its natural surroundings and incorporates its extraordinary landscape’s therapeutic benefits. The design team studied the valuables with a renowned local ecologist and implemented preservation measures for indigenous species like native atamasco lilies. A one-mile walking trail loops the location perimeter, connecting front courtyard, family gardens, and outdoor chapel with boardwalks and a viewing platform on the bird sanctuary. Project development was restricted to simply 14 acres, leaving 93.5% of the location unspoiled. In recognition of its sensitive environmental stewardship, Audubon International named Willson a Silver Signature Sanctuary, the 1st and only healthcare facility ever to earn that designation. Said Nancy Richardson, Director of AI’s Signature and Classic Programs, “To place this type of facility throughout the natural environment where everyone can draw from that natural energy around them and recharge for his or her tasks ahead is a unprecedented measure.”
Architecturally, the 34,000 square foot hospice welcomes the community into its small-scale volumes, breaking down its overall massing into three approachable households, each organized around a family front room. Simple geometric shapes with sloping gabled roofs and huge eaves echo local agrarian buildings. The building incorporates familiar materials like fieldstone, stained cedar, pine, and Douglas fir to impart texture and natural color. It emphasizes transparency, opening views into the heavily treed woodland landscape. Major gathering spaces just like the lobby, family living rooms, chapel, sunroom, and multipurpose room have high exposed pine plank ceilings, glu-lam beams, and tall wood window walls. In a healthcare world often polished with chrome steel and terrazzo, Willson Hospice offers a distinctively different warmer invitation.
The CARITAS Project also emphasizes that “by its very nature, a generative space is an area that progressively and tangibly improves through the years.” Although Willson Hospice was open only about 18 months, its benefits are on-going and measurable. This system reaches previously unserved populations with appropriate, effective, and efficient inpatient palliative care. Greater than a dozen patients every month are admitted directly from the local hospital, freeing the costlier acute care beds for his or her intended use and expanding the parent hospital’s capacity. The recent inpatient setting also extends patient stays at the hospice service, lessens anxiety, and facilitates lower medication levels. It provides a house base for Willson’s year-round slate of greater than 75 educational and bereavement counseling meetings, encourages volunteerism, and aids families with crucially-needed relief. Greater than 40% of the hospice’s admissions are for respite care.
On September 20, 2011, The CARITAS Project recognized Willson Hospice, designating it the 2011 national “Place to Flourish.” Presented by its founder, Dr. Wayne Ruga, on the Healthcare Facilities Symposium in Chicago, the excellence honors one project annually which best produces measurable, systemic and sustainable improvement within the health and well-being of people and communities. “This award serves as validation that we accomplished what we sought to do, and that’s to create an atmosphere that enables our patients . . . to commune with nature while still integrating with the community,” said Joel Wernick, President/CEO of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.
Perhaps most extraordinary was the astonishing number and diversity of community groups now active on Willson’s campus. Organizations starting from the local chapter of the Rotary Club to members of the yankee Chestnut Society, from the Audubon Society birders to Eagle Scouts, from Darton Community College’s cross-country track team to the city cancer support group all convene, train, volunteer, and teach here. Willson staff honor as lots of the meeting requests because the facility can manage, recognizing each as a chance to broaden contacts. Affection for the project has resulted in generous on-going contributions, continuing publicity, and an expanded referral base. By offering its physical space and philosophy of care as a resource not just to patients and families, but in addition to its larger community, Willson Hospice is enhancing the standard of life for its entire region.
Suzanna MacIntosh, a native master gardener who has taught and lectured on campus comments, “Willson Hospice Home is a really special facility which brings people together across all boundaries in our community . . . . [It] provides patients and their families a chance to reconnect with the wonder and peace of the wildlife and to recollect that all of us have a spot within the universe.”
Ila Burdette, AIA, LEED®AP BD+C is an architecture principal at Perkins+Will in Atlanta, answerable for long time care design and research. She will be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Designing for Health” is a monthly, web-exclusive series from the healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that makes a speciality of the issues, trends, challenges, and research inquisitive about crafting today’s healing environments. Past installments of “Designing for Health” include (click title to access the total article):
- Mentoring the subsequent Generation of Healthcare Design Professionals
- When the pro Becomes the Patient–An Insider’s Perspective
- The Evolving Role of the Design Professional Through Public Private Partnerships
- Are Best Healthcare Design Practices Transferable to the center East?
- Best Strategies for the EDAC Exam
- Traditional Culture in a brand new World