The new 50,000 square foot Group Health Cooperative – Puyallup designed by Collins Woerman architects of Seattle, WA opened in December 2012 as a striking new facility to serve Group Health members in the growing Puyallup area. The clinic is a replacement of an existing facility located nearby and offers services including family medicine, obstetrics, eye care and breast cancer screenings. The $20 million facility is located in a beautifully wooded area and was built to LEED Gold standards.

Below is a great short video discussing Group Health’s approach to health care design at the Puyallup site. The video illustrates the model of the facility as well as featuring highlights of how the design process included multiple stakeholders from the design team, the facilities team, clinicians and patients in order to achieve a result that Group Health believes will lead to better healthcare. A mockup of the facility was constructed out of cardboard in an area warehouse so these same stakeholders could test drive the new facility and offer feedback based on user experience, giving greater opportunity for the input of those who might have difficulty envisioning the full scale reality shown typically illustrated through architectural drawings or models.

One innovative feature of the clinic cited by Group Health in their announcements was the clinic’s use of “the new ‘PLOW’—a portable lab on wheels that will enable staff to travel to exam rooms for patient blood draws.” The philosophy behind this innovation was to bring services to patients. This seems to parallel the ideas behind the rapid growth in specialty and ambulatory care clinics in suburban areas and small towns – state of the art clinical care in sophisticated facilities need not involve a trip to the city center.

Other features of the building include the use of recycled timbers for architectural features and benches, a green roof and a pharmacy and eye care center with easy access from the entrance. The Clinic’s exam rooms are all identical 10’ x 12’ spaces with the exception of four larger 12’x12’ rooms. The exam room flow followed lean design principles in which there is no waiting room: patients proceed directly to the designated room through patient corridors. Nurses are stationed in a provider area on the opposite side of the room. The goal of this design is to minimize wait times and maximize the amount of time patients get to spend with their provider.

These exam rooms featured the AD Systems sliding barn doors by Goldfinch Brothers. The space savings of the sliders contributed towards the goals of efficient use of space in a setting where the relatively compact exam rooms require 2 doors each. The Group Health project also featured an automatic door bottom on select AD Systems Barn Doors for enhanced speech privacy along the patient corridor. Smooth rolling sliders with features such as soft closers and also offer usability advantages when you consider the operation of the PLOW carts or other medical equipment where a large clear opening is required and minimizing the amount of effort to push through the door is an essential part of the facilities efficient and patient -centered operation. Additional AD Systems Doors with glass lites were used for office and staff locations and the ground floor features a large AD Systems Officefront installation with structural glazed lites and two tall sliding doors.  Group Health Cooperative is a truly stunning medical care facility in terms of its aesthetic appeal and Group Health members are sure to benefit from the design process that created this prototype as a future model for clinical care.