Case Study: Palomar Medical Center West Escondido, California

Case Study: Palomar Medical Center West Escondido, California - Health Architecture Firm: Anshen+Allen Architects for Palomar Pomerado Health—An Association of CO Architects and Anshen+Allen
Design team: Tom Chessum, AIA, Principal-in-Charge; Stephen Yundt, AIA, ACHA, Planning Principal; Dennis McFadden, AIA, Design Principal; Derek Parker, FAIA, RIBA, FACHA, Healthcare Strategist; Bill Rostenberg, FAIA, FACHA, Planning Principal
Illustration: CO Architects
Total building area (sq. ft.): 879,000 For the Palomar Medical Center West, it was imperative that the facility would transform the experience that is typically associated with staying in a hospital. Constructed on a regional Greenfield, the concept behind the design was that of a vertical garden allowing a pedestrian oriented campus. The design strategies used were very sustainable. The two main strategies were to reduce the environmental impact of healthcare facilities in their construction and to create healing environments.

“A healing environment addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patients, family and staff that inhabit a hospital.”

The creation of a healing environment places the patient at the utmost importance to the client. Using evidence based design, this facility was drawn to patients having connections to nature and access to daylight. No room is compromised in the facility: the orientation of the building is so that the north and south have the most exposure, minimizing heat gain while allowing full amounts of daylight. This axis allows for the best possible views of nature for patient rooms. The objective behind the patient rooms was to design an environment that would ultimately improve the quality of care for the patient, resulting in improved patient safety.






The unit as a whole provides distributed care stations and storage available directly outside patient rooms. Same handed rooms were used to promote consistent positive efficiency and safety. Several of the units will be acuity adaptable, minimizing the need to transfer patients and keeping stress levels low. The new patient rooms embrace some of the most common practices:
  • All private rooms: Single rooms create a quieter hospital stay and reduce the risk of infection. Patients are offered more privacy and open up more when talking to staff.
  • Family as part of the care team: These rooms offer three zones – nursing zone with sink, supplies, and charting space, the patient bed area, and the family zone.
  • Connections to Nature: Experiencing nature has been associated with improvements in the healing process including lowering blood pressure and stress hormones. Views of trees, grass, and flowers are positive distractions for patients. Sunlight has been proven to increase the production of serotonin and decrease melatonin, helping to sync the circadian rhythm with the natural environment. The Palomar Medical Center will feature a 1.5 acre green roof that patients will view from their rooms. “Nature provides a respite,” said Tom Chessum, lead architect for the new Palomar Medical Center West in Escondido. “When you look out a window at the wind in the trees, you can let your mind go somewhere else and think about something other than the fact that you don’t feel well.”
  • Serene Color Palette: Hospital rooms are painted in soft earth and ocean tones to lower anxiety levels while improving mood and levels of relaxation. Studies prove that art depicting landscapes or ocean scenes are calming as well.
  • Distributed Nursing and Storage for supplies: To increase the time that a nurse spends with the patient, most nursing supplies are kept adjacent to the patient rooms. Rather than stocking one or two decentralized areas, the patient rooms at Palomar provide one closer per patient Case Study: Palomar Medical Center West Escondido, California - Health ArchitectureCase Study: Palomar Medical Center West Escondido, California - Health ArchitectureCase Study: Palomar Medical Center West Escondido, California - Health Architecture



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