Green hospice sets trend for health care

Monday, December 7th, 2009

By Kareeshma Ali

Owner/Developer: Hospice of Northeastern Illinois

Architect: Harley Ellis Devereaux/Hospice Design Resources

Contractor: Pepper Construction

The “green revolution” has often been associated with its attempts to address the adverse impacts of development footprints. However, too often the issues of public health and safety take a backseat during the design process and are overshadowed by the high-tech gadgetry. Harley Ellis Devereux (HED), in conjunction with Hospice Design Resources, has shifted this focus to the design of the new Pepper Family Hospice Home and Care Center in Barrington.

The 47,000 square-foot facility, scheduled to open in Spring of 2010, will contain 16 private patient rooms. The building will also serve as the operational headquarters for Hospice of Northeastern Illinois, accommodating over 100 field nurses, a community center, and support service areas.

The facility is designed to achieve LEED-Silver Certification and will be among one of the first green hospices in the country. Using portions of the Green Guide for Health Care, HED’s design solution infuses the interior spaces with light and views throughout the site. HED’s managing architect, Dave Moehring, AIA, said, “The goal of the design was to make patients, families and staff feel comfortable and to integrate design of the interior and exterior. Each private patient room is generously sized and offers expansive views of the healing garden and landscapes.”

Each of the 16 private rooms has oversized French doors and large windows to provide patients access to the outdoors. A protected patio is situated on the outside of each room for patients and visitors. Furthermore, visitors will be able to prepare meals for patients and can take advantage of the lounge, complete with a fireplace, environmentally friendly faux wood flooring and area rugs.

The exterior of the building is surrounded by greenery, much of the guiding reason behind the site selection. Tree removal was kept to a minimum, allowing the mature trees to stay on site. Additional new Deciduous and Evergreen trees were also added to the exterior of the building. Research supported the decision to intensify landscaping, reiterating the need to keep the health of the patients as their first priority in design. Deb Axelrod, ASLA, landscape architect for Harley Ellis Devereux, said that “Empirical studies have shown that exposure to nature reduces stress, pain, depression, and increases patient and staff satisfaction,” thus solidifying the necessity for user-needs consideration during the design process.

The landscaping will be instrumental in improving water quality in and around the site while serving as a wildlife habitat. Plant species were carefully chosen to withstand weather conditions, as there is no permanent irrigation on-site. In addition, rain barrels will collect water from building downspouts for hand watering and a storm detention area is created with native grasses, shrubs, and prairie plants.

The Pepper Family Home and Center for Care has received environmental grants from the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as well as the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. Its approach of using evidence-based design strategies sets a precedent not only for health care facilities but for developments at large. Rather than accepting default benefits from “green” techniques, the design consciously tries to create a comfortable and healthy atmosphere for patients, visitors, and staff.

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