Photo by Eric Best

HCMC prepares to open Clinic & Specialty Center

Updated: January 25, 2018 - 3:37 pm

The $220.8 million project puts hospital’s clinics under one roof

Synergy is the theme of downtown’s Clinic & Specialty Center, the new home of Hennepin County Medical Center’s outpatient services.

Inside the $220.8 million facility, about 40 of the hospital’s clinics have been consolidated into modern, modular spaces where patient movements will be streamlined, staff will work in open offices and Hennepin Healthcare System officials believe they can improve patient experience.

“[We] took that idea and embedded it into the design of the building,” said Scott Wordelman, senior vice president of HCMC.

The six-story facility, located across the street from HCMC’s red building, adds 377,000 square feet of clinical space to the hospital’s five-block Minneapolis campus. The glassy, copper-colored building includes a skyway connection across 8th Street and two levels of underground parking with 224 stalls for patients. Built out over two years, the building is expected to draw 530,000 patient visits this year after it opens on March 26.

hcmc clinic & specialty center 5 webThe design from St. Paul-based BWBR Architects is meant to be a major improvement over HCMC’s older buildings with more user-friendly features like digital directories, large windows to bring in natural light and color-coded floors.

Dylan McCormick, a project manager with Minnetonka-based Walker & Associates who is overseeing the project, said they’ve standardized the design of their clinics regardless of specialty so things can change, move around and grow over time and all under one roof.

“Over the years on the campus, things get piecemeal, remodeled, this and that… so building the flexibility into here to be able to do that for the next 30, 40, 50 years was important,” he said.

Officials say relocating the clinics, which before the new facility might be separated by several blocks, into a single building will improve patient experience. Christine Hill, HCMC’s senior media relations specialist, said patients who make appointments at several different clinics will be able to move more easily between them.

For example, a new cancer center is located next to a radiology unit on the ground floor. An orthopedic clinic is nearby so patients with less mobility don’t have to go upstairs.

“It’s certainly going to be a time saver for patients,” Hill said.

It will also be easier for their medical professionals to collaborate between appointments because of the shared facilities. Staff on each floor have open offices that connect directly to many of the building’s 363 exam and procedure rooms, about 15 percent more than the clinics’ current capacity.

Fewer hallways and waiting areas — spaces where “handoff moments” occur, Wordelman said — will mean less time for miscommunication and human error between clinic staff. Studies show this kind of team-based care with practitioners from several disciplines lead to better health care, he added.

HCMC's facility is marked on a colorful glass art piece that spans four separate floors. Photo by Eric Best
HCMC’s facility is marked on a colorful glass art piece that spans four separate floors. Photo by Eric Best

hcmc clinic & specialty center 4 webThe building’s medical facilities include an outpatient surgery on the top floor with 11 pre-op rooms and seven operating rooms. Exam rooms have lifts to better move less mobile patients, a new feature for HCMC. A physical therapy wing has wide views of downtown meant to relax patients.

Beyond the design, the building has other features meant to brighten the clinic experience, from a public Dunn Bros. café on the ground floor to a colorful glass art piece from artist Martin Donlin that appears to stretch four stories from outside the building.

Hennepin Healthcare has the option of adding three stories on top of a bump out in the back of the building that would add about 45,000 square feet if the hospital grows in the future.

McCormick said the building follows a move in health care from inpatient care to less costly and less burdensome outpatient care. Recently Hennepin Healthcare has bolstered its downtown facilities with a clinic in the North Loop to keep up with demand from a rising urban population.

“There’s nothing like this downtown,” Hill said. “People who work and live downtown will appreciate this.”

An operating room at the Hennepin Healthcare Clinic & Specialty Center. Photo by Eric Best
An operating room at the Hennepin Healthcare Clinic & Specialty Center. Photo by Eric Best