Good form improves function in a dual-purpose' suite for Arizona group

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Cardiovascular Consultants (CVC), Arizona's largest cardiovascular group with 30 physicians and 12 nurse practitioners in 14 locations, set a goal to create a combined "corporate" and "clinical" suite.

The group worked together with a developer and interior designer to carefully design a space that improved the functions of its new 20,400 square-foot suite at the Paradise Valley Medical Plaza, located on the Paradise Valley Hospital campus in Phoenix.

CVC originally occupied a poorly designed clinic that was located nearby, adjacent to the hospital's campus. The space was dark and uninviting to patients and was configured in an L-shape with long narrow hallways that hindered its functionality.

CVC spent a great deal of time and effort with its interior designer to come up with a suite that would house the company's centralized functions for the CVC corporate offices and also serve as a clinic for the 14 providers at this location.

When patients first saw the new lobby space for Cardiovascular Consultants, they felt that the new office represented a better level of care.

"It was a very unique approach to combine the design of this space-clinical with corporate," said Betty Wagner, of Wagner Partnership, who served as interior designer and project manager for the space. "As a result, both sides benefitted. The clinical side became more organized and the corporate side became more integrated."

Running and designing a practice like a corporation

"We operate our practice in a business manner," said Jim Chisolm, CEO of CVC. "It was perfect timing that the new building was planned to be ready for occupancy right when our centralized business units were fully developed, so our new suite could be designed to efficiently house those functions."

To fulfill their goals to achieve economies of scale and centralization, the CVC suite was designed to house corporate functions for training, research, a master phone service and an IT department to serve all 14 locations.

The 1,200 square-foot lobby was designed to make a good impression. It welcomes all visitors with pleasing colors, comfortable furniture and custom artwork.

"When the patients first saw our new lobby space they were amazed," Wagner said. "They immediately felt that the new office represented a better level of care."

Clinic design improves function

Wagner designed the clinic to maximize the flow and efficiency of the staff and the comfort and well-being of the patients.

The exam rooms were arranged and designed in four "pods" of three exam rooms. This grouping allows one doctor to work three rooms at a time. Physicians are able to move through the exam rooms faster and more efficiently, Chisolm said.

The circulation flow on the clinic side was designed to enhance patient throughput. Testing-related areas such as echo and nuclear medicine were grouped together to improve patient flow.

Designers concentrated on several unique features to make the clinic and corporate spaces open and airy. The treatment rooms, for example, have 10-foot ceilings and the hallways are much wider than standard to allow patients and physicians to walk side by side.

The overall design allows as much access to natural light as possible. Patient rooms are located on the perimeter of the space to take advantage of windowed walls. "Patient rooms have the best views in the suite," Wagner said.

"It is our goal to provide all patients with the highest quality service," Chisolm said. "That includes welcoming them with patient-friendly surroundings."

Good design at a reasonable price

Despite the carefully planned design and the unique approach, costs for the CVC suite were not exorbitant, netting out at $55 per square foot.

"We started with a generous tenant allowance from the developer," Wagner said. "CVC did exceed the allowance to accomplish all of their goals, but only slightly. We were able to produce a very high quality project that looks great and functions well for patients and staff within a reasonable budget."

Ms. Gustafson is a senior executive with Wolf Marketing & Media, a consulting and marketing firm that specializes in healthcare real estate.