BSA Lifestructures

Student Health and Wellness Renovation: A Project to Improve Patient Experience

Yin Pan, Architect September 7, 2017

When you were ill in college, where did you go?

The on-campus student health center where you probably found yourself in a poorly lit room, waiting to see the on-staff doctor, and trying to avoid curious looks from other students waiting to be seen.

The environment in which you waited significantly impacted the quality of your care. Studies show that poor healthcare environments can have negative effects on the healing process.

Key goals for the Habif Health and Wellness Center project, located on Washington University’s campus in St. Louis, were improved patient flow, increased privacy, and comfortable seating.

The university’s partnership with BSA LifeStructures offered strong experience in healthcare and higher education environments coupled with the passion for improving the lives of patients and healthcare staff.

Flow and Privacy

Patient and staff flow are critical when designing an effective healthcare space. For the Habif Center, flow and privacy issues were primary concerns and greatly impacted each other. When visiting the facility, students registered, waited in the main waiting area, and were called to enter one of two doors. One door was for general medical care, the other for mental health.

This layout did not provide ample privacy to students visiting the clinic.

Operational improvements for Habif resulted in a simplified layout and improved flow. BSA LifeStructures’ operational planners, with years of healthcare experience, recommended a more efficient layout and clearer wayfinding. Students now enter the clinic and register either on an iPad or with the receptionist.  Only one door is provided for entry to exam rooms, no matter the specialty area. Once behind the door, patients either enter a general exam room or travel to the mental health area. 

Patient privacy is intact and one entry allows for streamlined operational flow.

Flow issues were also resolved for the laboratory service area. Originally, students needing lab services had to return to the main waiting room for testing and results. The new design provides a specified laboratory waiting room, allowing patients to wait in a designated area for tests and results.

This new waiting area provides convenience, safety and privacy for students.

Seating and Interiors

The initial reception/check-in area was a small desk along the back wall of the clinic. Not very visible and cumbersome for the staff.

Now with views of the entire waiting area, the new registration desk is a circular design with ADA accessible counters and ample storage underneath. High visibility is important in case a student requires medical attention while waiting, allowing the receptionist to provide immediate assistance.  

Now only two staff members are required to fulfill all the needs at the registration area.

The arrangement and style of seating have been upgraded with the patient’s comfort in mind. Rows of chairs were replaced with high backed chairs to offer more privacy. Seating pods allow for smaller groups, again giving students more privacy. A library in the back corner provides additional study space for waiting students.

BSA LifeStructures collaborated with Kuhlmann Leavitt, Inc, an environmental graphics design company, on this health center renovation. KLI provided specific wayfinding and installed a large mural at the health center entrance featuring Washington University school life.

While the initial goals of this health center renovation focused on concerns for student privacy, the resulting environment offers much more. The new Habif Health and Wellness Center provides a calm, sensitive and healing place for students, no matter their reasons for visiting.

The high academic standards of Washington University are well-known, and this newly renovated health space better supports the general well-being of students along their academic journey.

The BSA LifeStructures team applied these same high standards in every aspect of this renovation project, ultimately creating inspired solutions to improve the lives of Washington University students.