jacobs medical center
jacobs medical center

Ahead of the curve: Transforming patient care from admission to discharge

UC San Diego Health, Jacobs Medical Center, La Jolla, CA

Medicine is on a constant trajectory of improvement. Patients expect the best treatments that will allow them to live full, long lives. Doctors want technology that will make it easier to treat their patients and improve their physical and mental well-being.

Jacobs Medical Center is the embodiment of moving medicine forward through building design, innovative healthcare delivery and smart technology use. These three elements work together to create an environment where patients can heal and doctors can spend time on care—resulting in optimal outcomes.

The 10-story hospital houses three major care areas: women and infants, cancer care and specialty surgery. To make every aspect of the hospital work efficiently and effectively, the design team worked with 80 hospital departments and held 500+ user meetings to understand how clinicians worked and what constituted an ideal patient environment.

The curvilinear exterior not only encourages natural walkways within the hospital, it also allows for maximum daylight and views looking out onto the La Jolla landscape. Each patient room has floor to ceiling windows to harness the healing effects of nature, and even operating rooms have small slices of daylight.

The Rady Pavilion for Women and Infants includes birth center rooms containing large tubs to support natural childbirth.The organic nature of the exterior translates to the interior, and is consistent throughout to create an intentional and natural flow; there are no right angles in the building.Multiple elevated gardens and terraces bring nature up to the patient level.

Technology is used in a patient-focused way, with patient rooms equipped with an award-winning headwall that combines all necessary medical equipment into a singular sculptural element. All patients have access to an iPad they can operate from their bed, allowing them to control lighting and temperature as well as view their medical history. A neonatal care unit includes an embedded custom-designed MRI that prevents unnecessary movement of critical care neonatal patients and allows medical staff to study newborns brains and reduce infection risk.

Jacobs Medical Center sets new precedents for how healthcare’s built environment can promote the best interests of patients and clinicians, and in turn provide better health outcomes.

What’s on the horizon for biophilic design? The evidence of the healing effects of nature is well-known, and large windows and access to courtyards are now common features in healthcare building design. Yet not everyone has access to these spaces throughout the day. By incorporating daylight access into operating rooms, labs and an underground pharmacy, Jacobs Medical Center echoes its natural surroundings no matter where one is in the building.