Marina del Rey hospital uses mock rooms to design state-of-the-art facility

The feedback provided by health care professionals is critical to making the high-tech rebuild of the current 2-story, 50-year-old hospital a success.

By Andres de Ocampo



Cedars-Sinai architects are redefining how hospitals are built by utilizing mock hospital rooms and feedback from medical staff to create a new 9-story Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey hospital.

Zeke Triana, AIA, vice president of Facilities Planning, Design and Construction at Cedars Sinai, whose team is leading the project for the high-tech rebuild of the current two-story Cedars-Sinai hospital, said, “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and the little details are so important,” according to a Cedars-Sinai article.

The 9-story rebuild, which is expected to be a state-of-the-art community hospital, prompted Triana and his team to pursue an unorthodox approach to designing and building the new hospital.

“I call it the ‘model home’,” Triana said, explaining the implementation of the mock rooms to the design process. “There’s six rooms. They have the same paint color, flooring, patient headwall, outlets and gasses, ceiling, lighting.”

The idea, according to Triana, is to create fully identical mock rooms of what’s to be expected in the new hospital. Triana’s construction background and past experience of designing hospitals allows him to help Cedars-Sinai achieve their intended design in construction.

Describing how the mock rooms are different from the traditional design process, Triana said that when building a hospital, the architects begin by interviewing the doctors, nurses and caregivers of the hospital and follow up with a post-interview floorplan, an illustration and a 3D virtual video of the hospital rooms.

“Most people, in my experience, don’t understand what they’re looking at but they might be afraid to admit it,” Triana said.

“This process usually provides very little comments from the medical staff.”
With Triana’s process, “the staff can put themselves in the actual space and we can get all kinds of feedback,” he said. “We want to get the feedback about the whole environment, which is difficult to get from two-dimensional drawings.”

Mary Worley, RN, a nursing director at Cedar-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital who toured the mock rooms and gave feedback, said, “It was so helpful to be able to walk through the mock rooms instead of just looking at the renderings. It really gave me and my fellow nurses a sense of what it will be like to work in these rooms, and what will be like for our patients. The rooms were very realistic and really helped us get a sense of precisely where we need to put things and how the patients will benefit from it.”

Though Triana said that the task of making changes and rebuilding the mock rooms, which are still going through changes, took a “few months,” he explained that it’s worth it.

“When we build the hospital, we can minimize changes,” he said. “We can build it faster and maintain costs. “By designing and building the new hospital this way, we can incorporate the changes into the drawings, and it gets built right the first time, which is my goal.”

Initial changes to all of the mock rooms included redirecting the placements of outlets against the patient’s headboard which the medical staff will be using frequently while tending to patients.

Worley, after viewing the mock hospital rooms, gave feedback to Triana and his team and said that one of the outlets in a medical/surgical room was so close to the patient “that if a nurse were coming in to do something on a machine, we would be right in the patient’s face and kind of bothersome to the patient. So, we were able to move that outlet out of the way and make it more comfortable area for the patient.”

Feedback from medical staff also resulted in a major change to the placement of sinks that would sit in-between patient rooms in the corridor of the new hospital. Staff, who would use the sinks when entering and exiting a patient’s room, said that the sinks stuck out too far and could cause a safety issue.

“We built the sink and the medical staff came to see it and they said, ‘This could cause splashing. The splashing could spill onto the floor and come out into the corridor,’” Triana said.

The sink was moved back further into the wall, which resulted in a four to six week change that redesigned the layout of the sink. Changes to the mock rooms not only take into account aspects of how medical staff will use the space, but also includes thoughtful details for the patients care.

For example, in the Intensive Care Unit, where the visibility of patients in need of critical care is extremely important, Triana explained that a viewing window for nurses to view patients easily is essential. “These patients are usually very sick,” he said. “In the ICU, every second counts.”

Triana, who plans on implementing natural light to patient’s rooms and windows with views of the ocean and the Santa Monica mountains, said that it’s purposeful for creating a “healing environment.”

“There will be a space in the new hospital called the ‘Plaza level’,” he said. “It will have healing gardens for both patients, visitors and staff to be outdoors and step out of the hospital to take a breath of fresh air to rejuvenate themselves.”
Triana’s inspiration for the implantation of nature into the design of the new hospital came to him a year ago when he was a patient in the hospital.

“What really helped me when I was a patient, was a view of the outdoors and nature,” Triana said. “It helped me relax and it lowered my blood pressure. The circadian rhythm is a part of this, to be able to see the sunset and mountains, you can know what time of the day it is and where you are. It provides orientation because you can be very disoriented in a hospital; this is all a part of the healing process.”

Besides the views of nature and windows letting in natural light, Triana wants to incorporate the color green to some design aspects of the hospital. In the ICU, he said there will be duplicate paintings on the patient’s headboard and on the wall across from the patient with a green light behind the artwork.

“We’re doing this so patients can enjoy a beautiful piece of art that hopefully calms you down,” Triana said. “Colors that you might see in nature and impact the patient care experience- that’s kind of what we’re playing with.”

The color green will also play a role for surgeons and other medical staff in the hospital’s Operating Room, which features durable stainless-steel walls that are not traditionally used in Operating Rooms. The green light coupled with the stainless-steel walls will create a cleaner, more sterile environment, and other changes make the Operating Room a unique space in the new hospital, according to Triana.

“Green light is supposed to be easier on your eyes and surgeries can last a long time,” Triana said, “Making sure that the hospital is efficient and functional for our caregivers is important because it will turn into efficient and better care for our patients.”

The new hospital will be built in the same location as the existing Cedars-Sinai facing Lincoln Boulevard, and is estimated to be completed in five years, according to Triana. The existing 2-story building will remain open until the new hospital’s completion but will eventually be removed to create parking space.

“The nurses are so excited for the rebuild,” Worley said. “I think it will lead to greater job satisfaction to be working in spaces that we helped design that make it easier to do our jobs. The rooms will benefit the patients too because we’ve kept them in mind as we walked through these spaces. The staff is excited. We are ready to be bigger and brighter and offer more to our community, to the nurses and to everyone at the hospital.”