Officials are getting ready for a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning at the new VA hospital in New Orleans. Veterans advised planners on what they wanted.
The new Southeast Louisiana VA Medical Center is adjacent to the new LSU Medical Center in Lower Mid City. But it has features designed to provide health care for veterans, not the general public.
Ryan Hullinger is a healthcare architect with the firm NBBJ. He says opinions from more than 100 veterans in focus groups were critical to the process.
“When a civilian goes to the hospital they might be there with family, loved ones, caregivers, but they aren’t expecting to get to know other patients," he said. "But with the veterans we found that they’re coming in, they strike up a conversation with another veteran. ‘Where did you serve? What was that like? What was your experience?’ So there’s a social connection that’s happening with them.”
So the new hospital has lots of space for group conversations, and they’re easily accessible to wheelchairs.
Edwin Beltran was the lead interior designer on the project for NBBJ. He says the public space is open, impressive, and has clear visual lines – because that’s what vets wanted.
“They always were seeking spaces that were well executed but they were simple – very well structured. They project a sense of expertise and confidence,” Beltran said.
They’re often coming a long way for appointments that can take all day – so they wanted lots of restrooms and a café. They got them.
They also wanted sturdy, simple furniture – easy to get in out of. And they are placed near windows with loads of natural light – and views.