Winchester Hospital

Situated in a renovated 60,000-square-foot industrial building, the new LEED-certified Winchester Hospital Center for Cancer Care consolidates oncology services that had been offered in three separate locations.

Seeking inspiration from the Planetree model of patient-centered care, the new facility promotes mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and physical healing through various design strategies.

“It was imperative that this new facility provide a relaxed, soothing, and comfortable environment for patients, families, and caregivers,” says Aileen Day, associate director of oncology.

To help make that happen, hospital decision makers used evidence-based design, involving patients, nurses, and even family members in key design decisions. Patients helped select the infusion chairs, for example, while staff tested a mockup infusion bay to determine furniture needs. Throughout the process, these constituents provided valuable design input.

Findings from a patient survey revealed that the new cancer center should incorporate five key elements:

  1. a choice of treatment areas
  2. natural light and colors
  3. a healing garden
  4. easy access to caregivers
  5. diversions from treatment

All of these wishes have been incorporated into the new facility, from the use of artwork and natural light, to the elimination of nursing stations, to the availability of both private and open infusion areas. Patients can choose either private treatment or open bays that can accommodate several patients at once. The open bays provide both a sense of personal space and an opportunity to socialize.Both private and open areas are furnished with Sonata by Steelcase Health, a line of modular casegoods developed to support infusion treatment.

We designed the infusion area with private and open options so patients can have a choice where they receive treatment,” Day says. “Do they want privacy or do they want to socialize? It all depends on the day, how they feel, and if they have friends or family with them. Patients told us this option was their top priority.”

Nurses also were surveyed about their desires for their new workspace. They named four priorities: 1) no distractions when giving medications; 2) good communication with providers and peers; 3) easy access to supplies; and 4) easy access to help during an emergency.

Based on this feedback, those involved in the design process knew they needed to create a quiet environment, but one that wouldn’t hinder communication and socializing. To achieve this balance, they specified Confidante by Details, an in-ceiling sound-masking system that emits white noise to diminish overlapping sounds among infusion bays. In addition, caregivers communicate with smart phones and tablets, which means no distractions from frequent overhead pages.

What’s more, Sonata by Steelcase Health provides the easy access to supplies nurses said they wanted. The Sonata casegoods line offers a number of modular units that provide storage for both personal belongings and clinical supplies—even locked medications. Besides, the modular nature of Sonata makes it easy for the Winchester cancer center to reconfigure its floor plan if and when needed, allowing for flexibility and growth.

First Impressions

The Winchester Hospital’s cancer center looks and feels like a different type of healthcare facility from the moment a visitor enters.

The waiting area avoids the bus-stop style of seating common to healthcare. Instead of rows of chairs, the waiting area offers seating vignettes for each of five distinct activities—watching television, snacking, relaxing, computing, and conversing.

The TV snubs standard programming in favor of soothing travelogues accompanied by classical music. Meanwhile, oversized Loria lounge chairs from Steelcase Health create a family room feel near the fireplace, while the snack area overlooks the healing garden.

“No detail was missed in our efforts to provide a waiting area that would serve the needs of people for various lengths of time,” Day says.

Nursing Workspace

After evaluating many other cancer centers, Winchester officials had a difficult time finding a model for the sort of patient-centered infusion area they wanted—so they worked with their architects and Steelcase Health to design one that fit their vision.

Instead of a traditional central nursing station, the Winchester cancer center incorporates individual nursing workstations within each of the five infusion bays. The nursing workspaces are all crafted from Steelcase’s Montage frame-and-tile system. Low workstation panels give caregivers a clearly defined workspace, along with clear sight lines to their patients. Workstations embedded within each infusion bay give patients the comfort of knowing their caregivers are readily available; besides, it’s a bit more personal than pushing a call button.

“Hospital decision makers specified many custom elements, including the lower Montage panels in the nursing workspaces. A variety of custom details were incorporated in Sonata throughout the treatment bays, including deeper drawers, a lower island, a different storage location for toxic waste disposal, and a special lower height for the Sonata wardrobe unit,” says Nico Flannery-Pitcher, an interior designer with Steffian Bradley Architects in Boston. “The result is a unique approach to patient-centered design.”

“The hospital administration thought of every detail when designing this new facility, including color, layout, natural elements, and involving key constituents in the design process,” says Debra Holden, a Steelcase workplace consultant.“They incorporated principles from Steelcase Health’s evidence-based design, as well as key components of the Planetree model to create a unique, patient-centered care environment.”

Winchester Hospital is an independent, not-for-profit, acute-care community hospital in Winchester, Mass. Winchester Hospital is Magnet Recognized for Nursing Excellence. In 2011, the hospital was recognized as one of the top 100 acute-care hospitals in the nation by Thomson Reuters. Also in 2011, Winchester Hospital achieved the Patient Safety Excellence Award—which recognizes hospitals performing in the top 5 percent nationally—from HealthGrades®, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization. For the fourth year in a row, the hospital also received the organization’s Outstanding Patient Experience Award, which ranks Winchester Hospital among the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide.

Architect and Design Firm
Steffian Bradley
Steelcase Health Certified Dealer
Office Environments of New England