By HCO Staff
New Brunswick, N.J.— A public-health pillar for access to community-based primary and specialized medical, dental, behavioral and vision health services, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) also are a cornerstone for DIGroup Architecture’s Healthcare Studio. Based in New Jersey with an office in Philadelphia, the firm’s community-health design portfolio includes projects across New Jersey and New York State where DIG recently joined Urban Health Plan (UHP) in marking the opening of its seventh New York City-based FQHC joint collaboration.
Established to improve access to primary care and other essential health services for vulnerable populations, FQHCs bring quality healthcare to underserved communities with the goal of achieving health equity. In addition to their role in providing vital health services and addressing emergent public-health needs, these health centers also spur economic development and environmental health opportunities.
“Federally qualified health centers are an important public-health gateway in their communities,” said Bob Ryan, DIG’s healthcare principal. “While those who render every facet of care and make these centers tick are the true heroes, our firm is committed to helping clinicians, patients and communities in the best way we know how: by providing architectural, design and environmental graphics solutions that ensure they can deliver care effectively, efficiently and safely to improve the overall health of the communities they serve. In this respect, we share a mutual mission to bring quality care to all.”
DIG has a long history of providing exceptional healthcare-design services to FQHCs as well as acute care hospitals, urgent-care facilities, addiction treatment centers and diagnostic and ambulatory services centers.
The firm’s latest healthcare projects were marked with the grand opening of UHP’s Park Tree Community Health Center, an 8,000-square-foot extension clinic, and its groundbreaking for a new 52,000-square-foot healthcare facility at 1095 Southern Blvd., both in the Bronx. The latter is being designed to address some of the most critical issues impacting residents of the Hunts Point and Longwood neighborhoods.
In addition, DIG has completed assignments on behalf of Zufall Health of New Jersey, as well as Premium Health and Bronx Community Health Network in New York City.
“Healthcare is perhaps one of the fastest-evolving industries, from technology to once-in-a-lifetime epidemics,” said Ryan. “When we start a new project, we immerse ourselves in questions and feedback that enable us to design a usable space while future-proofing its viability as healthcare evolves. The key for us is flexibility. We rely on our healthcare experts to help us understand how their practice is evolving so we can provide a design that’s purpose-built and timeless.”
Unsurprisingly, this evolution and need for flexibility crystalized during the COVID-19 pandemic. These shifts in revising patient flow, shifting resources to support telehealth, adding antimicrobial and air filtration efforts and increasing isolation space and negative pressure spaces are now routine considerations for designers and architects when updating or building facilities.
“It is clear that healthcare facilities must be built or retrofitted for the manner in which care is provided today with a vision for the possibilities of 10 to 20 years from now,” said Ryan. “We have to be innovative, forward-looking and rethink how we design these spaces for optimal use for a range of medical modalities and scenarios.”
Established in 2006, DIGroup Architecture is a nationally recognized leader in architecture, interior design and environmental graphic design with studios in New Brunswick, N.J., and Philadelphia. Its practice areas focus on the full range of education, healthcare, senior housing and civic/community gathering spaces. A certified Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) and Small Business Enterprise (SBE), DIGroup subscribes to an Architecture for Change philosophy.