Improving The Patient Experience

The ground floor of an outdated medical office building is repurposed as an efficient, patient-friendly outpatient surgery center.

Hoag Orthopedic Institute (HOI)’s decision to renovate the vacated ground floor of a medical office building in Aliso Viejo, California, into an outpatient surgery center required creative medical planning. The spatial and structural constraints of the existing building presented design challenges that LPA was able to overcome to achieve the healthcare provider’s goal of creating a resilient, efficient outpatient center that improves the patient experience.

“Surgery centers need to be planned carefully to provide spaces that serve to make patients more comfortable,” says LPA Regional Managing Director Greg Schneekluth. “Converting separate medical office suites into a full-floor outpatient surgical center required us to focus on the movement of patients through the space while also deftly addressing the location of the facility’s essential services.”

HOI wanted to achieve a “natural flow” for the facility, maximizing safety and efficiency while ensuring a relaxing patient visit. At the same time, it was essential to comply with the spatial needs for transport, sterilization and storage of medical equipment.

Patient Experience 1
Designers worked with Hoag leaders to develop individual rooms that are appropriately sized according to their assigned use.

LPA’s integrated design team focused on balancing the desire for more patient bays and operating rooms with the constraints of the space and the need to meet code requirements. To help the HOI team better understand and visualize the options, LPA developed three test fit options. The first divided the suite, creating five operating rooms (ORs) intercut by three corridors and 15 patient bays, including two private recovery rooms. The second option focused on a consolidated corridor offering the same number of ORs and bays, but the larger ORs and other spaces were grouped along a central core. Option 1’s divided corridors made safe circulation hard to maintain and sequestered staff workstations. Option 2 provided better flow and storage, but one OR was shrunk to accommodate other functions.

Patient Experience 2
All pre- and post-op bays have access to natural light.

Ultimately, HOI chose to proceed with the third option, which kept the central core framework but reduced the number of ORs to four, albeit larger than the original option. The center’s interior is laid out around the continuous corridor that bisects staff work areas and storage rooms and transitions into a loop that circulates counterclockwise around a central core. This path touches on all critical spaces within the facility, including the four operating rooms, supply rooms and the sterile processing room. The corridor is arranged to safely separate important functional areas, avoid cross-contamination and guarantee ease of flow. A total of 13 pre- and post-op bays, including two private recovery rooms, line the facility’s eastern perimeter, all of which benefit from natural light.

Surgery centers need to be planned carefully to provide spaces that serve to make patients more comfortable.

Patient Experience 3
A continuous corridor bisects staff work areas and storage rooms, touching on all critical spaces within the facility.

The layout is easily navigable and efficient, and individual rooms are appropriately sized according to their assigned use. The main entrance and waiting area are defined by a sculptural lighting installation suspended from the ceiling, lending the space a modern and minimalist look. Natural wood and earth tones populate the common areas, and all pre- and post-op bays have access to natural light. A dedicated ADA-accessible exit for patient discharge was created at the building’s rear for patients’ privacy.

“We wanted to brighten the facility, both inside and out,” says LPA Project Manager Maritza Barajas. “Research confirms that materials and biophilia can play a large role in improving patient outcomes.”

Patient Experience 4
The staff lounge break area features a colorful graphic and access to daylight.

Outside, the office building’s existing brick veneer was brightened, and the surrounding landscape program was redesigned with native, drought-resistant plantings. Due to the updated ADA parking and access ramps, guests can now easily access the entrance. In addition, the design preserved a beloved, decades-old canary palm that is a signature landmark of the site.

The surgery center is also designed to last. A new emergency generator ensures the outpatient surgery center will be able to continue to function in the event of an outage. The equipment is housed in a specially designed structure that both complements HOI’s new-look facility and helps keep the generator’s decibel level to a minimum — a critical consideration given the center’s proximity to a nearby daycare center and a mixed-use residential area.