In our twenty years of working with community hospitals, we’ve become pretty adept at scaling many of the concepts used by much larger hospitals so that smaller hospitals can leverage them. From green design principles, to evidence-based design – we’ve developed our own set of best practices that deliver large-scale results to smaller-scale facilities. Our award-winning design of North Valley Hospital back in 2007 gave us the opportunity to hone our skills on Planetree - or patient-centered design principles – and integrate those into our set of best practices. Creating special places for healing is how we describe it at JJCA, and we had the opportunity to make that “official” with the certification of North Valley as a Planetree facility. North Valley has become a highly toured facility for hospitals interested in better understanding the value of the Planetree process; so much so, in fact, that the hospital foundation has been able to raise money by charging for these tours.
Given that one of the tenets of Planetree is the incorporation of art and nature into design, it was certainly an advantage for us that North Valley Hospital is located in scenic Whitefish, Montana. Our goal was to give every patient a view of majestic Glacier National Park. One of our challenges was balancing wide-open mountain views with the need for privacy on occasions when patients required transportation between clinical services and the patient wing. Our specially designed “railroad crossing doors”, integrated into several facilities since, provided the ideal solution. Translucent glass doors stay open until or unless a patient needs to be transported, at which point a staff member simply pushes a button that closes these doors on the mall and then automatically reopens them after a set period of time.
Apparently the view from the “outside in” is as stunning as that from “inside out”! When the hospital was first built, there were initially some complaints that people couldn’t find it. So of course we were concerned there might be a signage issue. As it turns out, it had nothing to do with signage. The community simply couldn’t believe that something that looked like a resort hotel was actually their new hospital!
See additional photos and learn more about our work at North Valley, including the funding of the facility with HUD 242, here.