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Integrating care in a health village setting

Article by Jennifer Kovacs Silvis, Healthcare Design Magazine 
November 2013

The concept of the health village is one that's still being explored and defined by the healthcare industry. On day one of the Healthcare Design Conference in Orlando, the plans for one iteration of this community-anchored-by-hospital model was shared with attendees. 
In the session "Union Village: The First Truly Integrated Health Village," William Foulkes, Vice President of Hammes Co., and Rex Carpenter, Vice President of HKS Inc., shared the story of Union Village, a $1.6 billion development planned for Henderson, Nev. 
The project includes a healthcare center that's connected into its wellness-oriented surroundings that include retail, senior housing, and a hotel. 
But before sharing the precise plans in place for the Union Village site, Foulkes and Carpenter covered the drivers behind the health village concept and what master planning should consider. 
Healthcare and economic pressures include healthcare reform, health exchanges, and shifting reimbursements, as well as reductions in inpatient needs, complexities of the aging population, and market consolidation. But there are plenty of other internal drivers, like the push toward smaller facilities, decentralization of the hospital, sustainability needs, and prevalence of technology in care.
So taking those trends into account, Foulkes says master planning for a health village should first be broad--looking well beyond an acute-care model--shorter in duration than traditional master plans, cost-driven, flexible, and sustainable. 
And with that hospital anchor, the remainder of these communities have retail, entertainment, and cultural centers while offering residential components, too. And those additional pieces can be tied to the healthcare component. 
For example, Carpenter says, instead of paying the much more expensive cost per square foot to build a conference center at a hospital, the facility could instead use one at the campus hotel. Or instead of designing telemedicine areas into the hospital, physicians could take advantage of big screens at the village movie theater.
And while a health village can be very broad in scope to serve a more general population, variations on the model can be much more specific, serving particular groups of patients, like a dementia village or a dialysis village, for example.
But, overall, the project must reflect the community and provide the services its residents require. "It's really about mixed-use development," Carpenter says.
For Union Village, the plan is to serve a senior population, providing housing that connects back to the healthcare pieces in a pedestrian-friendly environment with architectural character to engage residents and visitors, and enough shading to make the Nevada location a bit more comfortable for walking outdoors. However, the hospital itself would serve a broader patient base, including children's, cancer, and skilled nursing specialities. The campus itself uses a Disney-esque approach with designed on-stage and off-stage areas.
With the advent of healthcare reform and the industry's attention turning more strongly toward wellness and preventive care, the team behind Union Village hopes the concept of the integrated health village will be adopted across the country. 
And because the undertaking of master planning such a large-scale project is one that may be overwhelming for a hospital to take on alone, Carpenter encouraged attendees to find community partners interested in exploring and supporting the idea. "It's hard to go out and pay for a master plan that's really a community plan," he says.