Connected closely to the health of their communities and the local economy, improvements to rural healthcare facilities can have a lasting, positive impact on residents and staff. For many years, our Heal Studio has supported these providers with forward-thinking, flexible designs. We recently interviewed our Director of Healthcare Design, Bob Bosley, about his experience working with critical access and rural hospitals.
In this article, he shares insights from his career. Spanning over two decades, his work encompasses everything from full replacement hospitals to additions and remodels. Discover the trends he’s seeing and learn more about what makes these projects unique below.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HISTORY DESIGNING NEW OR RENOVATED SPACES FOR RURAL AND/OR CRITICAL ACCESS HOSPITALS.
I grew up in a small town, and most of my family still lives in small towns. As an architect, I’ve had the chance to work with organizations that serve my family directly. So, for me, it’s energizing to be able to support healthcare in places that feel like home.
WHAT KINDS OF UNIQUE CHALLENGES DO YOU HELP THEM SOLVE THROUGH DESIGN AND PROGRAMMING?
Efficiency and flexibility are key in a community hospital. I enjoy listening to the client and sharing ideas with them about what is the right mix of services for their area. We consider how to combine uses, allow for and anticipate new models of care, and right-size projects. It is the most fun.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH THESE ORGANIZATIONS?
RURAL AND/OR CRITICAL ACCESS HOSPITALS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES. HOW DO YOU ENGAGE WITH THE PUBLIC ON THESE PROJECTS?
HOW DOES YOUR APPROACH DIFFER WHEN WORKING WITH HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS IN THESE AREAS?
One of the most significant differences is that these organizations typically tackle construction projects less frequently. They may not have the same infrastructure in-house to manage the work. When working with large, regional providers, we may be adapting to meet their systems. However, for these efforts, we act as a guide, walking them through the design and construction process, while they educate us on the specific needs of their community and staff.
A rewarding aspect of this is work is seeing the large economic impact rural hospitals have on their community. We’ve seen how these projects can generate jobs and improve the health of an area.
WHICH TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING AT THESE SMALLER FACILITIES? ARE THERE DESIGN ELEMENTS OR NEW SERVICES THAT MANY ARE BEGINNING TO OFFER?
- Refitting or expanding surgical services to accommodate robotic operations.
- Growing and increasing behavioral/mental health services.
- Offering space for patients to come to the hospital for telehealth services with larger health systems.
We are also seeing hospital leadership reach beyond traditional healthcare services. They are:
- Expanding physical therapy to include sports training for local schools or competitive teams.
- Offering housing through local partnerships to assist in recruiting physicians and/or staff recruitment.
- Partnering with school districts to provide school nurses.