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82 www. bus- ex. com October 08 Anenvironment Keith Regan learns how Altru Health System's decision to focus on patient comfort and aesthetics when it renovated and expanded its Cancer Center resulted in a place where patients and families can feel comfortable as they undergo their often lengthy treatments forhealing

A October 08 www. bus- ex. com 83 ltru Health System provides health services to parts of northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, with 1.5 million square feet of facilities space on its medical park campus. Much of that hospital and medical care infrastructure dates from 30 years ago or more, and the organization is systematically renovating space with an eye toward providing more patient comfort and aesthetic appeal. The project that best exemplifi es that philosophy is the soon- to- be- completed $ 3.75 million renovation of the Altru Cancer Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The project not only modernized the Center and added technological capabilities such as a permanent PET/ CT scan machine; it also focused heavily on patient comfort, a decision that the system made even though it meant additional costs, says Leah Hummel, facilities architect at Altru. " We could have done it a lot less expensively if we hadn't added the amenities we did," she says. " But that's part of the strategic plan." Data collected by the Center for Health Care Design suggests patients heal and recover faster in environments that are more comfortable and less institutional than traditional hospital ward settings. And Nancy Klatt, manager of the Cancer Center, says the way oncology has evolved in recent decades has meant that patients often spend more time in treatment over a longer period of time than ever before. " Some patients come back for years and years, and as they come back, it's important that they have a place where they feel comfortable and that's as attractive as it can be," Klatt says. " Having a place that is aesthetically beautiful can't help but make it easier to come back than if they had to return to a bland or institutional building." The renovated facility seeks that homey, comfortable touch with both large and small features. The waiting room and patient treatment areas alike feature windows that look out over landscaping specifi cally designed for the Cancer Center, with fl owers and shrubs that bloom in the colors associated with the efforts to eradicate various cancers— pink for breast cancer, for instance. The waiting area features comfortable furniture and fi replaces to help warm patients against the long northern winters. Altru Health System