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World-Class Patient Care That’s Ready to Adapt

How one healthcare system used industrialized construction to reduce clinic downtime.

We all know that color. It was originally called spinach green, but most people would probably just call it hospital green. It’s been a staple in healthcare facilities for a long time. And Russell Rein says that during the construction of a new clinic, he had a hardline against using it.

Rein is the Senior Vice President for ambulatory services at the University of Kansas Health System (UKHS). Avoiding that classic color was just one of the many ways his team wanted to break from tradition while building their new Corbin Park facility.

“It feels more like a contemporary retail, non-healthcare setting which is more appealing and creates a better customer experience.” says Rein. “And from an employee standpoint, our employees deserve to work in the kind of environment that creates strong teams and they're excited to come to work every day.”

A contemporary retail setting for healthcare


Ready to adapt

With 98 locations across Kansas, UKHS has a history that goes back more than 100 years. Treating patients in a variety of specialty areas has taught them to be thoughtful and responsive.

“One of our challenges as an organization that's rapidly growing and changing is we tend to move things around,” says Dr. Keith Sale, Physician Vice President for ambulatory services at UKHS. “And in historical spaces one of our biggest challenges was repurposing space because what works for one specialty doesn’t always work for another. So, the construction time and build time would often times create an impediment to quick change or quick progress and turnover.”

That was part of the reason that Sale and his team decided to use DIRTT to build out the Corbin Park clinic. As a construction system that layers modular components to create interiors, future adaptation can be done quickly reducing clinic downtime.

“As this space changes and morphs over the next one to four years, the rapidity with which we can make that change becomes a lot faster than with the standard construction approach,” says Sale.


Building with DIRTT

That same layered modularity that makes DIRTT adaptable in the long run, also makes it easy to install in the short term. Manufacturing and assembling components off-site reduces the amount of construction time spent on-site. That creates a process where instead of waiting until the walls are built and construction is done to think through elements of flow, the structure and layout was thoroughly considered from the start.

“It really forced our teams to engage months before we would typically do that with our facilities team, which I think was really helpful. I think it really created a sense of ownership with the team, too, as opposed to coming in and saying, ‘OK, this is what I got.’ They got to participate in in some of the design and build parts of it, I think, even more effectively than maybe they had done before,” says Sale.

We like the process. We like how it works.

Dr. Keith Sale, Physician Vice President for ambulatory services at the University of Kansas Health System


Getting the look

Which brings us back to that hospital green. To create a space that was going to set itself apart, UKHS wanted to elevate the look of the clinic.

“One of the things we pride ourselves as an organization on is that world-class, patient experience, right? I think we deliver on that from a healthcare perspective, but sometimes from a space and aesthetics perspective we fall a little short. And so, one of the things we want to do is try and match those two things up,” says Sale. 

From a 14-foot graphic wall in the lobby, to embedded LED lights in the hallways, Sale and his team created a space unlike anything else in their organization. Their sights were set on clean lines that deliver an almost spa-like aesthetic as opposed to something sterile and clinical.

“We were able to use some of the DIRTT technology to really bring in some of the amazing artwork that represents Kansas and create a very clean, very open type feel for our patients that’s probably newer and more modern than anything that we've put together to date,” says Sale. “It definitely stands out as something different than the standard health system palette when you think about our clinics, and we're really excited about that.”

Solid walls accented with embedded LED lighting


Hopefully this starts to set the bar for how we really combine the world-class patient care with the world class clinic and aesthetic feel.

Dr. Keith Sale, Physician Vice President for ambulatory services at the University of Kansas Health System

What next looks like

The University of Kansas Health System prides itself on making patient care accessible. With one of their key mantras being, “keep care local,” their goal is to create primary care facilities that are close to the people who need them. And there is a need. Before the Corbin Park clinic even opened, the schedule and waiting list was already full. With that in mind, Sale and his team are always considering what the next facility is going to look like as the healthcare landscape evolves. Whether that means an increased integration of technology in the space or in the construction process, using DIRTT can help them reach their programmatic and aesthetic goals.

“We don't want to be like everybody else,” says Sale. “We want to be the University of Kansas Health System and we want that to be recognizable wherever you walk into our spaces. This new standard is what we're hoping to continue with.”

A physical therapy gym with graphics and mirrored wall panels


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