California Sets the Trends for Hospital Design
USA Today examines how California hospitals -- among the first in the nation to "ponder their role in 21st century medicine" -- are preparing for the future, asking, "How will technology, an aging population, financial pressures -- and perhaps new diseases -- shape hospital care?" Hospital owners around the nation have "slowly" replaced or remodeled their facilities, but a new California law, which forces state hospitals to "strengthen aging structures" to meet earthquake safety requirements by 2008, has prompted owners to "redesign for the 21st century." Glenn Melnick, a Rand health care researcher, said, "California hospitals are being forced to be among the first to think this through. But every other hospital will have to come to those same decisions." In California, USA Today reports, future hospitals will house a host of new features -- including fewer beds, more private rooms, larger intensive care units and computer access -- but will also carry a high price tag. "The hospital of the future isn't a hospital; at least it won't be called a hospital," Peter Bardwell of Ohio-based NBBJ Design said, adding, "Instead, it will be called a health campus, with the emphasis on the word health." (Appleby, USA Today, 12/11).