San Antonio Hospital Focuses on Resort-Style Patient Experience

SAN ANTONIO — In Texas, Forest Park Medical Center is taking the patient-based design concept to a whole new level, by building medical facilities using a hospitality-based focus, in terms of design, patient care and amenity offerings.

The design of its latest hospital under development in San Antonio, for example, has a two-story entrance that was created to “look like you’re walking into the lobby of a grand hotel. The aesthetic is very high profile, catering to patients that, as the hospital puts it, ‘like the nicer things in life,’” said Sean Kirton, project designer for the health care group of Dallas-headquartered BOKA Powell, the design architect working on the project.

The groundbreaking for Forest Park Medical Center San Antonio happened on Jan. 26, with a scheduled opening date for the second half of 2014. Along with 54 beds, the full-service hospital will house 12 operating rooms, two procedure rooms, diagnostic imaging suites, a lab, pharmacy and cafeteria.

Just like architects design children’s hospitals to create a playful experience for younger patients, BOKA Powell designed the 150,000-square-foot facility to incorporate amenities that cater to a luxury lifestyle and go above and beyond what one might expect in the health care sector. The aesthetic that Kirton created incorporates a South Texas theme, with cow-skin rugs and deep orange- and red-hued pillows on display in patient rooms.

Apart from the decor elements, the 54 rooms, including 16 VIP suites, have actual beds in them for better comfort. In the VIP suites, there is a completely separate room for the patient’s family with a kitchenette and entertainment options, and even though it is connected to the patient room, there is a separate entrance that visitors can use to avoid disturbing the patient.

The room design also includes a bathroom located behind the patient wall so that the patient doesn’t have to move far. “The number of falls that a patient has is directly related to the number of times they get out of bed, so we wanted to give them the shortest route,” Kirton said.

The nursing staff will also include one nurse for every four patients, so there will be a higher level of nursing care. “The hospital gives a higher level of care that they take pride in. It reflects what they can do health-care wise, giving you the best that they can afford while you’re staying there,” Kirton said. “We’ve gone through and designed the building to reflect those kinds of things.”

The hospital is also unique in that it’s physician-owned, in which surgeons can schedule their surgeries and take advantage of the hospital by having more operational control. That being said, finding the physicians was a challenge for Dallas-based Neal Richards Group, the project owner and developer, because “physicians have to really care about the patient experience in order to care about working here,” said Don Powell, lead architect on the project and principal of BOKA Powell. “They have to believe in the healing process and making sure that patients don’t come back to the hospital after those procedures.”

The luxury experience goes beyond the building design and patient care by offering resort-like amenities. For instance, a variety of dining menu options at the facility will be available and created by chefs who use quality ingredients. Plus, a coffee bar will greet patients, visitors and staff members on the second floor.

Apart from the dining and entertainment choices available to patients and their families at the eight-acre hospital, Neal Richards Group has high hopes for the surrounding 44 acres, which it also owns. Some administrative offices are already planned in coordination with the hospital construction; however, Powell said that the company also plans on developing the neighborhood around the hospital, possibly adding retail and restaurant options in the future.

Forest Park Medical Center “truly believes in a medical mixed-use setting,” Powell said. “Medical developers want to control the land around the project because when the hospital gets built, the land raises in value. This way [Neal Richards Group] can control their neighbors.”

Along with BOKA Powell and Neal Richards Group, the project team consists of Vibrant Healthcare, the operator, and Rogers-O’Brien, the general contractor — both of which are located in Dallas.

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