Improving the staff experience improves patient outcomes

San Juan Regional Medical Center
Major Addition and Patient Tower

Farmington, New Mexico

Believing that the healing professional’s vitality is paramount to creating the best patient experiences and outcomes, Kahler Slater successfully worked with San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, New Mexico to leverage their major capital project into an opportunity to shift their culture and workplace. The resulting tower represents the incorporation of latest technology with a deep respect for diverse beliefs and spiritual traditions – as well as a love for the dramatic New Mexico landscape in the Four Corners area. Sustainable design strategies were incorporated in the project, including deep overhangs and screened porches which offer access to nature while reducing the cooling load and offsetting the cost of these unusual amenities.

Designed with experience in mind, staff amenities include dedicated parking, entry, fitness center, on-call suites, screened respite porches and separate staff cafeteria so they can relax “off stage,” and recoup their energies before returning “on stage” to help patients. The patient experience includes a new entrance, lobby, public cafe and retail, with a focus on the healing garden. Each care unit features a modest library, private consult rooms, family lounge, kitchen and circular meditation room, inspired by the design of a Navajo Hogan.

The outcomes are remarkable. Staff, physician, patient satisfaction and recruiting success increased significantly as staff turnover declined. Perhaps most importantly, patients’ average length-of-stay, infection rates, falls and mortality are all significantly reduced creating a more healing environment for those who come to give and receive care in this facility. Kahler Slater presented this project to the Annual Planetree Conference as well as to the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation Transform Symposium.

Powerful Results

“The process was vision driven and was instrumental in helping us to build consensus with staff, physicians and other constituencies. We found the approach helped us to make better and faster decisions because at every step of the project we were able to go back to the vision we created together.”

Doug Frary, Vice President, Support Services, San Juan Regional Medical Center

“In all my years working in health care and now conducting training for the Disney Institute for health care clients, San Juan Regional Medical Center is the first hospital I’ve ever seen that truly “got it right” when it came to designing on and off stage spaces.”

Chris Caracci, MA, MBA, Engagement Manager, Disney Institute