Patient first at new Finnish hospital

When the Central Finland Health Care district needed to expand the Central Hospital in the city of Jyväskylä, instead of renovating and adding new buildings and sections to the existing hospital, they built a new coherent hospital with one leading principle: Patient first.

Research/Case studies Healthcare

The new hospital in the Finnish city of Jyväskylä, with 140 000 inhabitants, is the first totally new-built central hospital in Finland since the 1980’s – consistently named Hospital Nova.
The hospital project is the largest public investment in Finland with a budget of approximately 500 million euro. It is one of the main hospitals in Finland, with a total floor area of approximately 106 800 square meters and 3 000 employees.

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“This is an enormous undertaking that involves nearly all functions of the health care district. The aim has been to create a high-quality specialised health care environment that is safe and healthy to employees and patients alike”, says Jari Ilves, project manager for design and construction for the Central Finland Health Care District.

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During the planning process, we have used experts together with the end users. Together, they have developed new solutions to support the processes that are important for a new hospital.

The staff move around the patient

The Patient first principle means that the patient should not move around more than necessary. Instead the design is adapted for the staff to work and move around the patient. In Hospital Nova emergency care, primary health care, special health care and social services come together as one patient-oriented entity.

“During the planning process, we have used experts together with the end users. Together, they have developed new solutions to support the processes that are important for a new hospital”, Jari Ilves explains.

Activity-based design for the staff

As a consequence of patient first, there are no dedicated rooms for doctors and nurses. Instead, the staff come to the patient. From the staff's point of view, you could say that the design of the working areas is based on an activity-based concept. But the architectural focus has primarily been the patients and their experience.

“You should not feel like arriving to a hospital, it rather has the feeling of a shopping mall. One main idea is that you should not get or feel sick of being there”, says architect Juho Pietarila of JKMM Architects.

A spacious and uplifting feeling

The first impression when arriving to the Hospital Nova, is a spacious lobby of 3 000 square meters. It has high ceilings and plenty of natural light flooding the space. In addition, startling art lighting enhances a modern and uplifting feeling.

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“We are very happy about the lobby. It makes it easy to orientate and see where you should go, and it has a certain feeling of something new and something else, not just an ordinary hospital”, says Juho Pietarila.

A lot of wood material is used, both in furniture and wall panels, to emit a natural and healthy feeling.

“The light, the natural materials and the feeling of nature is important to achieve a healing environment.”

Acoustics considered from start

The lobby consists of very hard materials as a stone floor, aluminum panels and wooden walls. In other words; a challenge from an acoustic perspective.

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“We had to consider the acoustics from the beginning and involved an acoustic expert from the start. Not only because of the huge lobby. All rooms and sections have different purposes and had to be adapted to good acoustic conditions”, says Juho Pietarila.

All suspended ceilings throughout the building, 75 000 square meters, consists of acoustic absorbents. There are also hidden absorbents behind the wooden walls.

“At some walls we use curtains that hide absorbents, so we get effect from both textile and panels”, Juho Pietarila explains.

Four separate sections in one

Hospital Nova is divided into four different sections, all separated from each other but still under the same roof. From bottom to the top, these are:

  • Logistics section, in the basement.
  • “Hot hospital”: emergency care, surgery, ICU, diagnostics, analytics etcetera on the first three levels.
  • Elective care and treatments: specialists and planned activities.
  • Wards: 368 single patient rooms on the top floors.
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Sound environment requirements for hospitals are stated by Finnish law. But there are many spaces in hospitals where you need more detailed planning and fitting of the sound environment. We expect quality and the Ecophon solutions at Hospital Nova meet our requirements.

A challenging hot hospital

The “hot hospital” section sets special requirements on all materials used.

“The maintenance is so important in health care environments. All absorbents must be easy to clean and easy to open and remove. On the other hand, they must have the acoustic absorption qualities required and also look nice. This was a challenge. But we have found solutions that satisfy the eye as well as the function. We use approximately 20 different absorbents, depending on function and environment.”

These solutions also satisfy the project manager, Jari Ilves.

“Sound environment requirements for hospitals are stated by Finnish law. But there are many spaces in hospitals where you need more detailed planning and fitting of the sound environment. We expect quality and the Ecophon solutions at Hospital Nova meet our requirements.”

An ambitious art program

The Hospital Nova project takes the visual aspects seriously. Apart from the high-end architectural concept, the hospital also includes an ambitious art program. With inspiration from the Central Finland national parks it brings nature inside. Some of the artwork has been integrated with the building.

“Our goal is to bring the magnificent Finnish nature closer to our patients and staff with the help of art”, says project manager Jari Ilves.

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Art can be found and enjoyed in the lobby, atriums, waiting areas and wards. In the upper floors the theme of the artworks is a sheltering forest. In the lower floors the chosen theme is flowing water.

“Art is healing, comforting and rehabilitating, it lifts our spirits, improves our quality of life, and is a source of well-being”, states Jari Ilves.

 

Text: Lars Wirtén

Hospital Nova, Jyväskylä, Finland

  • Budget approximately 500 million euro.
  • One of the largest hospitals in Finland.
  • Total floor area approximately 106 800 square meters.
  • 250 meters long, 100 meters wide and 40 meters high.
  • 75 000 square meters suspended ceilings.
  • 3 000 employees.
  • 360 consulting and examination rooms.
  • 24 operating rooms.
  • 368 beds in wards.