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Magazine highlights design of local medical office
Rooms' decor aimed to ease patients' anxiety before stressful tests
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Imaging Center Gainesville has incorporated flowing water features in its design that also includes soft lighting and a home-like ambience. Recently it was featured in the Healthcare Design's 2010 Architectural Showcase.

If you've ever spent any time in Imaging Center Gainesville, you may have noticed that it's a bit different compared to other medical offices.

Instead of the usual stark white walls and generic blue chairs, the office on Jesse Jewell Parkway features warm earth tones, water features and the kind of comfy seating you'd expect to find in someone's living room.

The center's homey qualities didn't occur by accident. It was all part of a specific design that recently was featured in Healthcare Design's 2010 Architectural Showcase, which highlights "innovative design solutions."

"It took some thought to pull it all together," said Debbie Duke, director of imaging services for the center, part of Northeast Georgia Medical Center. "Having a relaxing environment helps with the (examination) process itself. It helps to reduce patient anxiety, which means less repeat imaging."

A number of issues can bring patients to the imaging center, including diagnostic X-rays, brain scans and mammograms, all of which can be stressful on patients.

One of the most anxiety-inducing tests that the center conducts is a mammogram, an X-ray used to detect breast cancer. The exam requires patients to stand still for an extended period.

Knowing how stressful mammograms can be, administrators focused extra attention on constructing a special mammography suite for women. Among other things, it includes warmed robes, specialty snacks and artistic light panels to add visual interest in the testing rooms.

"The Medical Center Auxillary raised money to allow us to put in a few unique features," Duke said. "The spa theme is carried throughout the center, but especially in the women's area."

The center's design also was done at the same time as the Women and Children's Pavilion and North Patient Tower at the hospital.

"We wanted there to be a common, calming theme throughout each of the buildings," said Carol Burrell, medical center executive vice president and chief operating officer. "It can be intimidating to come inside of a hospital. It helps to have a calming environment to reassure patients while they are waiting for their appropriate diagnosis."

Opening the imaging center in 2009 also helped the health system streamline the imaging and testing process.

"Before opening the center, we had outpatient services in any area that could accommodate the volume, and we didn't have the space to really individualize things how we wanted," Duke said. "The new center has allowed us to structure the waiting and (testing) rooms in such a way that it reduces patient steps and makes the overall experience more streamlined for patients and staff."

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