Early this year, providers and staff of The Center for Integrative Medicine (TCFIM) at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) learned that the clinic would relocate from its long-time home on the fifth floor of the Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion.
The clinic chose a new location in Stapleton, one floor above the AF Williams Family Medicine Clinic. It was a roughed-in space, a shell – a “blank slate,” as TCFIM Practice Manager Steve Tung puts it. It took some discussion to reach final decisions on the design of the new space, but Tung and his colleagues knew what it would not be.
“We were not creating a physician’s office,” Tung said as he sat in his new office last month, a week after the Nov. 10 move. “We wanted to create a place of wellness and restorative health.”
Just as TCFIM is now physically separated from UCH and the Anschutz Medical Campus, its design also distances itself from its former space in the outpatient pavilion. There, linoleum floors run through mazes of nondescript, windowless offices and exam rooms under harsh white fluorescent light: the picture of a sterile clinical setting.
Keep it natural
The new space takes advantage of the natural light afforded by large, south-facing windows. Frosted glass at the tops and the sides of doors allows the light to suffuse the hallway that runs the length of the clinic. The floors are still linoleum, but a hardwood look replaces the routine institutional and antiseptic white. Earth tones envelope the space. Murals featuring natural images, including stones, flowers, and sky, dominate the walls of clinic rooms, where medical supplies are concealed by cabinetry. Hand sanitizer dispensers are also inside clinic rooms, another subtle differentiation from a hospital setting.
The look befits a clinic that, as its name suggests, provides holistic patient care that includes acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, behavioral counseling, yoga, and traditional Chinese medicine – all while keeping one foot planted firmly in the world of Western academic medicine.
Tung was a design decision maker with Medical Director Lisa Corbin, MD; Lisa Gallun of interior designer Gallun Snow; DAO Architecture; and project management firm Project One Integrated Services. But the team drew inspiration from other places providers and staff had worked. For example, they surfed the Internet for a look at spa designs from around the world.
“We wanted to create a warm environment, and in doing that we listened to the voice of the patient, too,” Tung said.
The message was that patients wanted a space reflective of recovery rather than treatment of illness. That meant “highlighting the concept of relaxation and stress reduction,” Corbin said. “We now have an atmosphere that we think will make patients feel calm and cared for.”
The new center has the same number of exam rooms, but adds a large “multipurpose room” capable of handling group visits for yoga, tai chi, meditation, mindfulness, stress reduction, and the like. It’s stocked with yoga mats, Mexican blankets, and other items supplied by yoga instructor Carolyn Valdez, of Denver Yoga Therapy, in anticipation of attracting members of the community, Tung said.
Part of the neighborhood
He’s optimistic that will happen in the Stapleton neighborhood, a bustling middle-class area he believes “gravitates to wellness.” With AF Williams and the hospital’s Stapleton Physical Therapy Clinic one floor below, TCFIM also enjoys a font of potential referred patients looking for alternative modes of care, Corbin added. The connection promises to help TCFIM build on its current annual volume of about 9,000 visits.
“We’ve targeted open-house presentations for faculty and staff,” she said, “and they are excited about it. We expect to get lots of referrals from primary care for treatment of chronic pain, headaches, and other difficult-to-treat conditions.”
One day before its official opening, TCFIM also held an open house, inviting current Stapleton building clinics to get a sneak peek, Tung said. Awareness-raising efforts included joining with AF Williams and Stapleton Physical Therapy to staff a booth at the community’s Nov. 20 “Winter Welcome” on 29th Avenue, he said. An article about TCFIM in the neighborhood newspaper “Stapleton Front Porch” is also planned, along with materials developed by the hospital’s Marketing and Communications Department.
Meanwhile, TCFIM will also begin offering acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage three half-days a week at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Clinic in mid-December, Corbin said. That will at least partially allay some of the inconvenience the move to Stapleton will cause for employees and faculty on campus who used the center’s services. The University Medicine – Lowry practice will also continue to offer acupuncture one-half day a week, she said.
The planning and actual move could have created enough stress for TCFIM staff to have to use their own services, but Corbin said that wasn’t the case. She credited Tung for keeping the project moving smoothly.
“I was very impressed with the process from start to finish,” she said. “The progress was great and there were very few surprises. The space is exactly as we envisioned it.”
The new location for The Center for Integrative Medicine is 3055 Roslyn St. in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood. To make an appointment, call 303.553.2750.