Better, bigger and faster

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Better, bigger and faster
Better, bigger and faster
Putting together The Willows at Bellevue in Ohio was like constructing a giant 3-D puzzle, says Adam Foltz, project manager with The Douglas Company.

Unlike many other construction and design companies, Douglas uses pre-fabricated wall panels in most of its projects.

“That means a shorter time line before [the facility] can start occupying and generating revenue, and that's critical,” says Marty Larnhart, director of business develop­ment. “It saves money in a lot of different ways.”

The shorter construction time meant The Willows was completed in just seven months—a remarkable feat, considering a similar project could take up to 18 months using traditional construction methods, according to Foltz.
In March 2008, with all its pieces finally in place, The Willows at Bellevue opened its doors.

Bigger and better

To set The Willows apart from other assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, designers decided to go bigger: bigger rooms, higher ceilings, wider hallways, the works.

The state of Ohio requires each patient room be no less than 100 square feet, says Foltz. The majority of the rooms at The Willows wound up being in the range of 250 square feet, Foltz says. The larger rooms make it easier for residents to personalize their space.

“We've made up several private rooms for people with couches and it feels like a little apartment. It gives them more independence and makes it feel a bit more like home,” says The Willows Executive Director Christine Greilich.

Functional hallways

The assisted living and skilled care “neighborhoods” at The Willows are connected by a service corridor, yet still remain separate from one another. The hallways at The Willows also contain a multitude of nurses' stations. Instead of a traditional, centrally located station, the design team placed stations halfway down each of the corridors, so no resident is more than three doors away from a nurse.

At traditional nursing homes, “you always hear, ‘I'm at the end of the hall, I never get any attention,'” says Greilich. That doesn't happen at The Willows, she says.

Roads to the watchtower

Just as all roads lead to Rome, all the hallways at The Willows lead to a flower box in the center of a town square type common area, which contains a large clock that marks the hours for all residents. Surrounding the watchtower, as it is called, is a salon, an ice cream parlor and a little place called the Depot Café, which doubles as a rehabilitation area to help re-teach activities of daily living.

“A lot of time, therapy goes in there and they work on baking and using the cupboard like they would in a kitchen,” says Greilich. “The residents can also go in there and fix any snacks that they want.”

Recipes—like puzzles and certain facilities—come together with happy results.

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Lessons Learned:

1 - Prefabricated wall panels cut construction time and costs

2 - Centrally located kitchens and laundry rooms mean fewer staff and better service

3 - Decentralized nurse stations create a close-knit community atmosphere
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