VA Front Entrance Renovation
No one is ever particularly excited about visiting the hospital, but the Department of Veterans Affairs sought to make a visit to the VA Hospital less stressful. The grand main entrance, constructed in 1950, had been renovated multiple times over the years, squeezing space for clinics, security and technology until the experience was now more that of a tunnel littered with courtesy wheelchairs. The VA desired a more patient focused, hospitality style experience for their patients, visitors and staff.
The project was broken into multiple phases. The first phase was to identify functions that did not need to be critically adjacent to the lobby. These functions were then relocated to vacant space within the medical center to free up space around the lobby. The second phase organized and re-routed the above ceiling utilities. The first two phases allowed the lobby and main corridor to become significantly larger spaces, returning some of the original grandeur back to the entrance experience. The lobby was then reconfigured within the larger space to be more patient focused. A new, patient-friendly information desk greets visitors immediately upon entering. Medical Center directories and maps were digitized to make them easier to read and help patients in finding their destination. Other required postings, notices, bulletins, and brochures were organized into several defined, well-lit display areas, reducing wall clutter and the patients need to search for applicable literature. Clinical waiting areas and general waiting areas were organized and defined to avoid overcrowding, but were defined with heavy duty glass partitions to maintain the volume of space. A small coffee shop was also added to enhance the visitor experience. Located immediately adjacent to the main elevator bank it is also convenient for and popular with staff.
Instead of feeling like they are entering an institution, patients, visitors and staff now feel like they are entering a multi-star hotel, complete with a concierge and Starbucks! It is now a pleasant space to spend time. For those just passing through and looking to use the lobby for information, the new, convenient information desk and patient-friendly technology helps expedite their search, reducing congestion in this highly trafficked space. Incidents of facility damage have virtually been eliminated. This is due in part to the elimination of overcrowding in the space, but it is also because the users—both patients and staff—appreciate the space.
Note: This project was awarded the Department of Veterans Affairs "Silver Medal of Achievement" in 2008. Typically this is awarded to doctors, nurses and staff that the DVA feel “go beyond the call of duty” in providing service to veterans.