In a medical office building, it is important to both meet practical needs and make patients comfortable. Join us as we go on-site to Palmetto Health Council in Palmetto, GA where we learn from Jeffrey K. Griffin, a LEED certified architect at JKG Collaborative that specializes in health care facilities. Learn architectural qualities you can add when designing and building your new practice or what you can do to improve an existing practice. We’ll also discuss the importance of sustainability, trends in products and features, and learn what to avoid.
Lyndsey: Hi, I’m Lyndsey Coates and welcome to Nuesoft Technologies’ Medical Podcast Series. I’m here with Jeffrey Griffin of JKG Collaborative. It’s an architectural firm in Virginia Highlands in Atlanta. And we’re going to talk about medical facility design today. He’s done a ton of projects. We’re actually sitting in one of them here in Palmetto, Georgia. It is the Palmetto Community Health Center and it is brand new. So welcome and thank you.
Jeffrey: Thank you.
Lyndsey: Alright Jeff so let’s get started. What does JKG Collaborative do?
Jeffrey: Well, we’re an architectural firm and we specialize in healthcare and primarily outpatient health care facilities so really stuff that’s outside the hospital walls. We’re very focused on physician practices both small and large inventory surgery centers. Imaging centers.
Lyndsey: So tell us about the building that we’re in today.
Jeffrey: This is a community health center that was constructed for Palmetto Health Council. They’re a non-profit and they own and operate community health centers throughout Georgia. It was not funded in part by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Vice President Joe Biden called it one of one hundred projects that are changing America.
Lyndsey: Fantastic so this is going to be a LEED certified design. What is LEED?
Jeffrey: LEED is leadership in energy and environmental design. It’s a third party certification process organized by the U.S. Green Building Council and so as a LEED building we’re energy efficient. We used a lot of regional materials, recycled materials. We’re really focused on healthy indoor environment and being friendly to the greater environment.
Lyndsey: One of the features that is attributed to the LEED design is this green roof. Can explain what this is and what it does?
Jeffrey: It provides another insulated barrier. There’s some cooling that happens in the summer time just through transpiration with the plants. It also reduces a storm water run off. So when it rains the plants absorb some of the water. You’ll see some irrigation heads out here and they’re actually irrigated through a system of cisterns that we have that collects the roof water and then irrigates the roofs again later in the weeks when we don’t have rain.
Lyndsey: OK, which happens fairly often here.
Jeffrey: Yeah, in the summer time.
Lyndsey: What are some key factors of medical facility design? What are some of the first things you need to look at and overall things?
Jeffrey: We like to look at two things. Both the inside and outside. It really starts with the inside and understanding what the mission of the organization is, physician group- what kind of services are they providing? And then we like to look at their flow systems, patient flow systems, staff flow, and doctor flow. And at the same time we want it to be a friendly, patient friendly environment.
This is our main waiting room. Reception is there. You see, one of the things we wanted to do is when you come into the space you can see the receptionist. But you don’t necessarily have to wind your way through the patient area. So nice and open. Lots of glass- it’s all north facing glass so we don’t even need any window blinds. And the check is remote enough where it’s semi-private and we have a little sit down area there.
Lyndsey: You mentioned patient friendly. What are some things you can do so that- the first thing that comes to mind is a cold, white interior. What are some things that you do to warm up the space?
Jeffrey: Well I think you need to be contemporary with your design. And you know colors change every five to ten years so you need to make sure you’re constantly upgrading your facility design. Use color, use artwork- it’s a big factor in helping warm the space up. And then use material that people are familiar with.
And so depending on what you’re trying to do you might not want to put a lot of some linoleum and white wall. There’s a lot of great materials out there now that are both environmentally friendly and don’t give off a lot of volatile organic compounds. And can be very attractive.
Lyndsey: What are some materials that you would stay away from?
Jeffrey: Well I think there’s a lot of material- let’s take paint for instance. There’s low VOC paint and even no VOC paint where they could be painting outside this office and we wouldn’t even know it because it doesn’t give off any organic compounds.
So I really try to guide my clients towards using those types of products. They sometime cost a penny more or no more than another product. So they can be very healthy and attractive as well. Also we want to make sure that in a medical facility the material we use are easy to clean and be maintained economically.
Lyndsey: A lot of material for this building were locally sourced. How do you pull everything together?
Jeffrey: Well we’re in Atlanta so it’s great. We have a lot of products available to us. But we really try to look for things that are manufactured locally or at least regionally so that again- we don’t have the transportation costs involved to bring a product from Washington state to Georgia. But it’s also better for the local economy so we try to do that as well.
Lyndsey: So this is all good for a brand new facility. Do you work on reconstruction at all?
Jeffrey: Oh yeah and that’s a big part of our work as well. Particularly today where we can find distressed property or property that’s being under utilized and acquire it at a much lower price than what you can build new and then rehab it.
The biggest question there is it right for medical practice? Is it the right shape? Is it the right size? Does it have parking? And what are the utilities like because often times we’ll go into say a retail facility- it just does not have the infrastructure for medical- it doesn’t have plumbing all over the place. It doesn’t have zoned HVAC system so you have to look at all that. We’ve done things like turn an old Piggly Wiggly into a surgery center and orthopedics office and a lot of things like that.
Lyndsey: You can kind of see the transition in your head of how it would switch. OK so an existing doctor’s practice wants to warm up the space so a new fresh coat of paint? Paintings?
Jeffrey: First I would check your system of operation. What type of question are you asking at that point? Are you behind a glass screen and they have to open the screen and say ‘hey, how are you doing?’. Or is it more open?
So I say take a look at that sort of thing. And see if you’re projecting the kind of image you think you want. I think it’s good to just go around and take some snapshots. And look at those pictures. I think that you will see that a lot of times in existing facilities you get a lot of clutter. You get a lot of signs. Don’t do this. Do this. We expect payment. You know, we accept Mastercard, we accept American Express. And you get all this stuff and it really clutters the message you’re trying to send which is really about the patient and so you want them to have a warm and friendly environment. Open up the reception.
Lyndsey: Well, what about the college health space because I know that you’ve designed some of those as well. How does designing for that differ from a regular medical practice?
Jeffrey: In a lot of ways it’s the same. We’re still trying to do the same things. We’re trying to see a patient in the most effective and efficient way. Maximize the patient’s time with their providers. Layer on top of that a teaching function.
So we have preceptor or proctors. Or medical students in their residence. So how do we manage that? A lot of times a student will see the patient then they’ll come out, they’ll present that to the doctor that’s precepting. We have to have a place to do that. But we also want that to be efficient and effective as well. Cause again we are trying to make it a good experience for the patient as well as for the doctors and staff.
Lyndsey: College students have a little aversion to going into the clinic in the first place.
Jeffrey: Well that too but we’ve got everything. We’ve got teaching medical hospital, elderly patients, so we’ve got all the specialties and we have to have a way to manage that as well.
Lyndsey: Well this is so interesting and I really appreciate you joining us today. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks again for joining us viewers.