First-Person Comments on UW Health at The American Center

Laura Stillman, Principal, Flad Architects


Laura Stillman, Principal, Flad ArchitectsThis project would not have been the same without the input of the patients. Their level of commitment was extraordinary. They were willing to take risks in what they suggested, and challenge others at times. All this was done with care and consideration, but also with conviction.


They were very articulate about the importance of way-finding, the need for clear circulation routes on campus, signage, and ease of access to the front door and the parking facilities. They were able to tell us about the needs of the patient and family in the registration process and how important it is for patients to know what to expect and how to access services, both before and at the time of arrival at the campus. They made clear that the preplanning for visits and for families is helpful in reducing stress on arrival.


Parking was a key consideration and the patients expressed a desire for covered parking or a parking ramp. The ramp was to be clear in its layout, easy to navigate, and provide direct access to the hospital. Their feedback was important in validating current design trends and the need to focus on the patient first and foremost. That understanding has been considered in every design decision made by the team.
Patients are the ultimate stakeholder for a new health care facility. We believe a well-designed environment for care can support the healing process and the work of all who occupy the space. It is our highest objective to support patient and caregiver needs and create a design that is pleasing and practical for them on all levels.


It was inspiring and immensely valuable to hear the patients' perspectives. We learned from them and became friends and colleagues in the process.


Kristine Wiese, Patient and Family Advisor


Kristine Wiese, UW Health Patient and Family AdvisorMy personal experiences definitely shaped my suggestions. We've had great difficulty getting in and out of rooms with my parents, who are elderly, disabled and have a language barrier. I was insistent on ease of navigating hallways being a priority. In my book, patients and family members shouldn't need a map to find their way in or out of patient areas. Hopefully, the new facility will be easier to navigate than the current hospital. I also advocated for enough seating for all involved – patient and family members as well as room for their coats and bags.


I had no idea what to expect, but did feel that I had a voice and was listened to. There can be nothing more rewarding than that. I think it is crucial to include the end users in any project. It makes a huge difference if designers listen to those who will be using the facility: staff, clinicians and patients. I believe we helped create a better design for work areas for staff, which ultimately makes for a better environment for patients/family members.


I now have a better understanding of what goes on with the entire organization and felt very welcomed by all. It was a great learning experience of what goes on with planning a project such as this. I feel very honored to have had this opportunity.


Alan Sweet, Patient and Family Advisor


Alan Sweet, UW Health Patient and Family AdvisorUW Health's strong commitment to patient- and family-centered care, culminating with the unqualified support of the three CEOs (UW Hospital and Clinics, UW Medical Foundation and UW School of Medicine and Public Health), is very much embodied in how the planning and development of the UW Health at the American Center project has come thus far.


Patient and family advisors have been welcomed and embraced as true partners over the past two-plus years. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve alongside of UW Health vice presidents, administrators, doctors, nurses, and staff. My experience has been satisfying and enriching beyond my wildest expectations.



Peggy Zimdars, Patient and Family Advisor


Peggy Zimdars, UW Health Patient and Family AdvisorI was surprised by how welcoming and inclusive the experience has been, which has encouraged me to participate in more requests for PFA involvement. It also highlighted UW Health's commitment to a full partnership among patients, families, staff, providers and the organization.

One suggestion I felt strongly about was having a desk long enough so a family member/friend could take notes for the patient, as well as having the desk at the front of the room with the provider facing the patient rather than the computer, with the computer between the patient and provider so patients and families could also see the screen.


I also suggested that there be a separate area for children as often family members may need to bring children with them and if the children have a child-friendly area, it will be less stressful for other patients. Several of us also advocated for quiet waiting areas with cluster seating and with separate areas for TVs.


Patients and families are important to the design of patient-and-family-centered-care health care facilities. Their perspectives results in less stressful environments that are healing environments; greater patient and staff satisfaction and improved patient and family engagement in their health care; a culture of partnership; welcoming environments as well as safer environments that result in a better experience of care, greater quality of care.


Mark Hamilton, Vice President, Ambulatory Service, UW Hospital and Clinics (Bio)


Mark Hamilton, Vice President, Ambulatory Service, UW Hospital and ClinicsThe staff and everyone else reacted so positively to having patients involved. We're truly beginning to change as an organization and move more toward having patient and family advisors be a part of our everyday life at UW Health.


This is one of the most positive projects I've ever been involved with. We got to know our patients better, they taught us to look at our organization in a new light and they had a positive impact on the outcome. When UW Health at the American Center opens in 2015, we certainly will have a final product that we can all be proud of.