Jill is helping out; OHSU takes a different approach to designing new South Waterfront building…

A warehouse along Macadam Avenue in Portland houses a maze of cardboard, almost like an adult version of children’s forts.

The cardboard has aided Oregon Health & Science University in designing the rooms inside its planned $340 million patient building, parking structure and guest house that will break ground early next year.

In an unusual move, OHSU and ZGF Architects are engaging all the various groups who will use the building in the planning process. Doctors, nurses, patients, engineers and housekeepers all have given input over the past five months.

“It’s given everyone a new perspective on how we can craft everything,” said Dr. Reid Mueller, associate professor in the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “Everything from the way the hallway flows to the positioning of the chair when you’re sitting with your family member and the importance of privacy in the recovery area.”

One patient who has participated is Jill Viggiano, whose husband had a stroke seven years ago.

“I have no medical background at all, it’s like stepping into Oz,” Viggiano said. She suggested the waiting room in the new building contain more distractions for family members, including kids — “something to play with and look at and be a kid and not feel like they’re annoying everyone else.”

The Center for Health and Healing South, as the new building will be called, will sit just south of the existing Center for Health and Healing, which contains doctors’ offices and outpatient space. It will also be a little shorter, at 15 as opposed to 16 floors.

The entire project will encompass 750,000 square feet. It will include 48 “extended stay” rooms and 76 guest rooms above the adjacent five-story garage. A small park will remain next to the patient building.

CHH-South will also contain space for surgery, interventional procedures, outpatient clinics for cancer, cardiovascular disease and gastroenterology, a pharmacy and imaging and lab space, conference center, parking garage and space for Knight Cancer Institute clinical trials.

An oval-shaped “mission control design” will allow gastroenterology, cardiology and pulmonary procedures to share a central core and some nursing staff.

“One of the great things about the space is that we’re integrating with other specialties,” said Dr. Gene Bakis, assistant professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. “Patients are best served by multiple specialties. Here we’re going to be feet away from each other to promote cooperation and collaborative thinking.”

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