Denver Health Outpatient Medical Center: Arriving Soon in the Denver Health Care Community

The new facility focuses on the needs of outpatients, visitors and care providers.

BUILDING DIALOGUE

An iconic gateway building for the Denver Health cam pus is nearing completion at the intersection of Bannock Street and Speer Boulevard in Denver. The new facility focuses on the needs of outpatients, visitors and care providers, and will dramatically increase access and convenience for the nearly 678,000 outpatient visits to Denver Health each year.

Tom Harvey, FAIA, FCHA, LEED AP
HKS Architects

The Denver Health Outpatient Medical Center, or OMC, is a 293,000-square-foot, seven-story building that will consolidate most of the specialty clinics scattered around the campus into one convenient location. The building also houses outpatient surgery, endoscopy, infusion centers, dental, audiology, physical, occupational and speech services, and behavioral health along with a full array of imaging, laboratory and pharmacy services and the Denver Public Health Clinics.

• What are the key factors in designing cutting-edge ambulatory care environments? Changes in the care environment may be required on a daily or weekly basis as Denver Health responds to the health care needs of the city’s residents. Flexibility of both operations and facility is paramount. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for adaptable clinical spaces. Other examples of continuous change include increasing virtual care at home and evolving or new developments in clinical practices and technology. Overall, the design must provide an environment that will help Denver Health achieve the health care quadruple aim: to achieve excellent patient outcomes; deliver an excellent patient experience; provide a satisfying and productive work environment, all while reducing the cost of medical care.

The new OMC was designed by HKS Architects Denver, in association with Iron Horse Architects, with the goal to optimize flexibility and to enable Denver Health to achieve continuous process improvement. Denver Health has an exemplary track record in CPI and serves as a model for other safety net institutions across the nation. In this project, a standardized modular design of the basic clinic platform allows numerous clinic practices to function within a consistent and repeated layout on each floor. Over 70% of the Denver Health specialty clinics fit within this standardized environment. Such standardization facilitates easy expansion of services and will reduce operational costs through consistent application of materials, utilities and building systems. As a healthy work environment, the design provides access to daylight and views to outdoors for both patients and staff throughout the day.

Patients will appreciate the intuitive understanding of this simply organized building that allows them to navigate to their destination via a single access corridor on each floor with daylight and exterior views to the Denver Health campus.

Patients will appreciate the intuitive understanding of this simply organized building that allows them to navigate to their destination via a single access corridor on each floor with daylight and exterior views to the Denver Health campus. By design, all patient movement is separated from staff and supply traffic and protected from the noisy hubbub of staff circulation and conversations unrelated to their own care. A central greeter will quickly check patients in on each floor, and their personal medical assistant will receive them with little to no waiting experience, then escort them to their exam room through a corridor designed for patient use only.

To improve operations and care team collaboration, clinicians working from a centralized “team core” will enter the exam room from an internal doorway. The number of exam and procedure rooms surrounding the core is limited to twelve to minimize walking distance for the clinicians. The configuration of the standardized module will help Denver Health achieve exam room utilization in the range of 70% to 75%, as compared to the 40% to 45% utilization rate in most traditional clinics.

• How is the building addressing Covid-19 concerns? The OMC is well conceived to minimize inadvertent or unnecessary public travel within the building and congregation in waiting areas. By design, the clinic modules and ancillary access points have eliminated large waiting rooms, anticipating the operational practice of preregistration prior to arrival so that the patient can immediately be greeted by their caregiver and escorted directly to the exam room. The flow within the clinic modules, with patient-only corridors and the team core having separate entrances to the exam and procedure rooms, reduces unnecessary interactions – they encounter only those care team members they came to see. The flexibility of the module design also easily facilitates the use of exam or consultation rooms for virtual patient visits while the clinician is still in the company of their provider colleagues for consultation as needed.

Turner Construction completed the project in early August, with occupancy and training occurring through the rest of this year. The first patients are anticipated to be seen in the first quarter of 2021.

Published in the September 2020 issue of Building Dialogue.

Edited by Building Dialogue