Design and planning firm Gould Evans, in partnership with Kahler Slater’s team of medical planning consultants, has designed the newly completed Patterson Health Center in rural Harper County, Kansas. The 62,500-square-foot facility unites two formerly separate critical access hospitals under one roof.
The design of Patterson Health Center responds to the county’s need for a new, cost-effective and resilient model of rural healthcare that promotes a community of wellness. Despite being deemed crucial to a community’s health and financial success, 20 percent of existing rural American hospitals have been identified as at-risk of closure because of the economic stresses of population decline, outdated facilities and shrinking healthcare reimbursements.
In response to these challenges, the design team led stakeholders through a hands-on, interactive virtual reality process to co-create a space that embodies efficiency, flexibility and healing.
“This building saves our rural community from potentially losing a hospital or two. The unique merging of two critical access hospitals into one efficient, well-organized, patient-centered facility could become a national model. It provides resiliency against the constantly shrinking resources we’re seeing nationwide,” said Pat Patton, CEO, Patterson Health Center, in a statement.
The project is significantly funded and inspired by the Patterson Family Foundation, created by the late Neal Patterson, a Harper County native and co-founder and former CEO of Cerner.
The hospital design is inspired by the joining of two communities, Harper and Anthony, Kansas. It is deliberately sited between the towns and adjacent to their shared Chaparral High School. The distinctive roof form, resembling a heartbeat, opens on its north and south ends to reach out to each community and create a new identity for their merged facility.
The material choice of reflective, standing seam metal roofing references contextual agrarian structures and its lightness conveys a tranquil wellness space. The darker metal panel façade emphasizes voids of light and transparency that highlight the care happening within. Entrances are marked with native western red cedar, which wraps into the main entrance and guides guests into a vaulted lobby that connects with the light-filled main circulatory path. Full swaths of vertical glass in perimeter spaces and every inpatient suite connect visitors to the earth and sky. Clearstory and skylights provide additional daylight to spaces typically buried within hospitals, including main circulation paths, nurse stations, staff areas, and lab spaces.
The center provides access to education, prevention, and long-term wellness by combining a health clinic with various spaces traditionally associated with a community center — an indoor/outdoor café and a large greenspace for health fairs, farmers’ markets, and fitness events. The adjacent high school will soon offer a health-centered curriculum with introductory heathcare job training programs, sports medicine classes, and wellness programs to improve teenage health.