Patients get bad news and good news at a hospital, and they need the space to process that information, said Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center architect Doug Mayoras.
That's why the 352,000-square-foot hospital has 144 private patient rooms, wide hallways decorated in warm colors and large windows that overlook Eagle Valley. When the hospital opens to patients on Saturday, they will be able to see all of this for themselves.
"That's part of the healing environment," said Mayoras, a partner in Moon Mayoras Architects Inc., based in San Diego.
The company started on this project more than four years ago. The 54-year-old architect has designed hospitals for more than 25 years. He said Carson-Tahoe Hospital executives wanted a patient-first approach, and that meant incorporating aesthetic design elements.
"We all love natural light," he said Monday. "You have the south face of the building, and we took as much advantage of that as we could."
The two courtyards, or light wells, on the second and third floors let natural light into the building.
Deborah Brandt, interior designer for Brandt Design Group of San Marcos, Calif., said the colors used inside the hospital came from Nevada's environment, such as the sand tone, green sage and plum, which is intended to remind visitors of the sun setting over the Sierra Nevada. Cherry and maple wood were used for furniture and the porcelain tile is meant to resemble slate.
"The whole point is to create a non-clinical environment that is patient-centered and uses natural colors and tones," said Brandt, who has been designing hospital interiors for 25 years.
The interior design includes 80 pieces of original art created by Northern Nevadans and 300 posters. On the second floor will be a photographic display of the history of Carson City and the hospital.
"We tried to create places of positive distraction," she said.
Hospital spokeswoman Cheri Glockner said visitors will be able to borrow booklets that will guide them on a tour of the hospital's art collection. The booklet is expected to be available in January.
To make the hospital as easy to navigate as possible, the public side and staff side were separated, the architect said. For example, public elevators are located on the south side of the building. Those waiting for an elevator can look south across Eagle Valley. The staff elevators are located near the courtyards.
All the support services - such as food storage, supply receiving, trash disposal, equipment sterilization - are on the lower level, where there would be less public traffic. The first floor of the medical center is for outpatient services, which means that it has a high level of activity and is more open to the public. This is where the gift shop and cafe are located. Public traffic is limited on the second floor because this is where the Intensive Care Unit and surgery rooms are located.
On the lower, first and second floors, the public hallway is located on the south, or front side, of the hospital.
"There's a back hall in the hospital that the public won't be able to get into," Mayoras said. "It's dedicated to staff and patient moving."
The medical center's third floor contains most of the patient rooms. Typically, the hallways there are used by both visitors and staff, he said.
The hospital wasn't designed just by Mayoras. Hospital staff members contributed to the layout of their departments. One example of that is the Emergency Department, which has three components that work closely together: emergency care, observation and fast track.
With the help of the staff, the department was structured so an emergency doctor can easily walk to the observation unit to check on a patient.
The observation unit is where a patient can stay for a few hours, if a diagnosis is unclear, instead of being admitted to the hospital. Fast track is for non-critical patients who need to see a medical practitioner and get a prescription.
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.