Leading with Wellness—A Critical Access Hospital Reimagined

Kahler Slater was honored and privileged to have the opportunity to speak with Alison Page, CEO, Western Wisconsin Health (formerly Baldwin Area Medical Center), and share a unique transformation story at the National Rural Health Care Leadership Conference.

The challenges facing WWH’s community are just like the ones rural health care in America is facing today: physician shortages, access issues, population health and efficient operations. To overcome these issues, we helped WWH develop a new community vision rooted in health and wellness: “Imagine a healthier tomorrow.” The focused values of care, innovation and sustainability guided the vision into becoming a true Blue Zone.

Together with our client, Eric Mayne, AIA, Associate Principal, Architect, Designer, shared the steps WWH is taking to evolve their campus into a successful wellness community, differentiating themselves in the marketplace and improving the health of their population; starting with their cornerstone project – a New Regional Wellness Center.

Using a total experience design philosophy, WWH and Kahler Slater developed goals and design solutions for the new Regional Wellness Center:

1) Fully integrate health and wellness services into the facility.

By fully integrating wellness services into the new facility design, WWH now has a comprehensive solution for optimizing health and well-being in their community.

Solutions included: New wellness services (nutritional education, integrative therapies, behavioral health, etc.); New rehab & fitness center; an integrated clinic environment.

2) Improve the experience for staff and patients.

Safety, access and wayfinding were leading drivers for improving the patient and staff experience in the new facility. This also sets up the team for to achieve powerful results in terms of efficiency and workflow.

Solutions included: a healthy environment; operational efficiencies, including a new Central Hub; clear wayfinding; safety & security.

3) Design a sustainable facility inspired by natural surroundings.

WWH has a strong mission to build a sustainable campus, both operationally and environmentally. The new Regional Wellness Center incorporated local construction materials; energy sources, including geothermal heating & cooling, access to natural light; and a unique architectural style to sustain overtime.

Western Wisconsin Health has big plans for continuing the vision of their health and wellness campus, including strong focus on sustainability, local partnerships, evolving services, technology, regulatory framework and the continuum of care for patients long-term.