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Institutions seek to reduce healthcare costs by improving the health and well-being of their employees, patients, visitors and neighbors. The CNU Health Districts project builds on this momentum to find solutions that remove the barriers between neighborhoods and health systems, and encourage collaboration among the professions of urban design and health planning and architecture. For example:
- A blank wall facing a neighborhood street can be transformed into a ground-floor use such as a pharmacy that benefits the community as well as the institution.
- The street face of a parking deck can be shielded with a liner building that provides housing for patients’ families.
- Security buffer zones can be turned into public parks that promote healing and well-being.
New facilities can be accessible by transit and provide connections to walkable neighborhoods and parks. They can catalyze restaurants and other public amenities—providing opportunities for social interaction for patients and their families, employees and neighbors.
Healthcare providers see the benefits of a holistic approach to health. Kaiser Permanente now hosts more than 30 farmers markets at their hospitals in 9 states. These markets promote healthy eating and offer patients, visitors, staff, and neighbors access to locally grown, wholesome food.
Moreover, in 2003, physicians at the Heart Clinic of Arkansas committed to support the Arkansas River Trail. In partnership with the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, and Little Rock Parks and Recreation, the Heart Clinic Arkansas raised funds to create "The Medical Mile" on the Arkansas River Trail in downtown Little Rock. The venture soon engaged other physicians and practices, as well as local hospitals and the Arkansas Department of Health.
Video from Perkins+Will describing Health Improvement Districts.
Examples of health facilities that are built to human-scale and located in compact, walkable neighborhoods, can be found throughout the United States.
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) is dedicated to creating and maintaining sustainable environments for the greater community—as well as employees, patients, and visitors to the Medical Campus. BNMC addresses issues such as public safety, wayfinding, and transportation. Among the infrastructure under construction is a linear park which will provide a safe and walkable public space for all modes of transportation to be enjoyed by patients, visitors, students, neighbors, and employees.
Fort Belvoir Community Hospital
Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia is one of the first military treatment facilities to use evidence-based design principles to increase patient health outcomes, decrease recovery times, and maximize provider and patient safety.
LifeSci Village by Torti Gallas and Partners, Inc., is a mixed-use, infill 'Health District' that will connect to the National Headquarters for the US Food and Drug Administration and be located next to the planned Washington Adventist Hospital. LifeSci Village is a 300-acre infill development connecting health, life sciences research, and continuing education in a live/work/play environment.
Top photo: Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Source: Architectural Resources