Avera on Louise welcomes first patients: Take a look at the finished space

Oct. 29, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Interstate Office Products.

How do you find the ideal piece of furniture for families of patients in a hospital?

You hold a “sleeper sofa social.”

That’s what led Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center leaders to select one of the most key pieces of furniture for the new Avera Specialty Hospital on the Avera on Louise campus.

“We invited patients, family members, Avera employees and the public to come try out four different styles,” said Angela Storm, Avera interior designer.

“We evaluated the sofas from every angle, from comfort to mechanics to how easy it is to move and clean.”

The choice for Avera Specialty Hospital became clear: The Surround sofa by Steelcase was chosen for the patient rooms that will begin to host their first guests this week.

“It was the perfect fit,” Storm said.

The care taken with that one selection can symbolize the approach taken with the entire Avera on Louise campus. Before the first dirt had been moved for construction, Avera and longtime partner Interstate Office Products were beginning to strategize about what the experience for patients, families and employees would be.

“It’s a partnership, and as a partner we wanted to make all the research, resources and opportunities to develop new products and meet patients’ and families’ needs available,” said Gary Gaspar, CEO of IOP. “The whole project was centered around meeting their needs.”

Which brings us back to that symbolic sofa. Avera actually was part of the development process for that piece of furniture, hosting Steelcase researchers who did observational research in the health system as they created the sofa. IOP is a Steelcase Premier Partner.

“They work with leading health systems across the country, including Kaiser, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo and Avera,” Gaspar said. “They’ve been in Sioux Falls on three different occasions for a week at a time over the last several years doing work on different product lines.”

The Surround sofa takes the place of multiple pieces of furniture in the patient room, freeing up space for everyone in the room and offering families lots of comfort and convenience.

“You’ve got the traditional use as a sofa, and then it has a shared surface that slides the length of the unit so you can share a meal with the patient or other family members, play cards or work,” Gaspar said.

“It has power access and optional lighting, and then at one end there’s a reclined seat back with a headrest.”

That care and attention to detail carry through across the furnishings at Avera on Louise.

The vision began with the theme “Horizons,” and the goal was to continue the theme through from the flooring to the furniture and artwork.

In the atrium, the idea was “to invite people in to help anchor the height of the space,” Storm said. “It was important to give patients and guests options during their time in the building.”

Avera and IOP brought in furniture that was designed to create options and comfortable seating through the space.

“It’s not a sea of all the same chairs,” said Kim Ducommun, IOP’s account manager who worked in conjunction with her colleague Kaye Hansen on the project.

“They’ve created different seating settings. It’s not how you normally feel in a waiting area. It gives people choices if they want to sit in a group or in a place by themselves. The idea is to make it feel more like they’re in a cafe or a place that’s more comfortable and not in a waiting area.”

There are armchairs, lounge chairs, sofas, hip chairs and bistro tables.

The styles are classic in terms of colors and yet bring in a variety of patterns, she added.

That’s by design, Storm agreed.

“Everything needs to feel cohesive as you maneuver throughout the buildings, so I selected a large material palette and then pulled different groupings for each area, and IOP provided options, new furniture trends and demonstration furniture,” she said. “It was a pleasure to work on.”

There are a variety of waiting areas throughout the complex, and the goal was to create what Storm called “a living waiting room” feel.

“Furniture is meant to be moved around. It’s meant to be used,” she said. “I really enjoy seeing people rearrange furniture so they can gather together how they need to. Some guests will wait a few moments to see their physician, while others may wait a few hours for a loved one having a surgery or procedure. By providing different seating options, we are really just inviting people to feel comfortable while they wait.”

That same inviting approach was used in the spaces where employees work.

The team swapped out more traditional casework for furniture that was more modular.

“It can all be relocated or reconfigured and gives a lot more flexibility,” Ducommun said.

Employees increasingly have wanted height-adjustable work surfaces, Storm added.

“As a designer, I would love to say that I could build something that would accommodate anyone, but the flexibility in the height-adjustable desks has proven to be the perfect match for staff,” she said. “With electronic medical records, we simply don’t need all the casework we previously had, so we’ve started to incorporate these desks from the beginning.”

As the finished space has taken shape, it has fulfilled Avera’s vision, said Dick Molseed, executive vice president of strategy and governance.

“The flow is good. The buildings present well. Our staff is very excited to be there. They’re taking great pride in it. So I’m pleased with how it’s all come together,” he said.

“IOP is very much a partner with us. We talk to them early in the construction phases of projects like this, so they fully understand the patient needs and family needs and what’s going to be there. The furniture is just about the last thing to go in for a project like this, so they’re truly there from beginning to end.”

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Avera on Louise welcomes first patients: Take a look at the finished space

Avera Specialty Hospital has started seeing its first patients! We took a look at the finished building – and what it took to finish it off for patients, families and the Avera team.

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