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VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System’s Ambulatory Care Center wins national engineering design award

VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System’s sparkling new Ambulatory Care Center lights up when the sun comes up for area Veterans.

OMAHA, Neb. – VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System’s sparkling new Ambulatory Care Center continues to turn heads.

Since its opening in August 2020, the $86 million Ambulatory Care Center has become an integral part of VA NWIHCS’ efforts to provide state-of-the-art medical care for Nebraska and Western Iowa Veterans. With its modern outpatient surgical suites, spacious exam rooms, open reception/waiting areas, wide hallways and numerous Veteran-themed design elements, the ACC has also received numerous accolades from governmental and civilian organizations.

Most recently, the Omaha-based ACC was recognized by the AIA Knowledge Community’s Academy of Architecture of Health as the winner of the 2021 Healthcare Design Award for Category B (medical facilities that were constructed at a cost of more than $25 million).

The ACC was the only governmental project to receive an award this year.

Robert Hailey, current chief of Engineering for VA NWIHCS, said being recognized by an organization like the AIA is a rare feat for VA medical facilities. “What makes us so unique is we’re being showcased as one of the best of healthcare building design and design-research,” Hailey said.

The ACC was the first VA medical facility ever constructed using federal and local donated funds under the CHIP-IN for Veterans Act of 2016. This fact already made the ACC special.

However, as architects and engineers began working on the design for the ambulatory care center utilizing the VA’s Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) model, they took care to pay attention to both large and small details, knowing that the ACC needed to meet a wide variety of area Veterans’ needs.

Throughout this process, Hailey said, Omaha VA Medical Center medical, safety and engineering staff worked closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Construction and Facility Management and the Leo A. Daily firm – a local healthcare design firm that renown both nationally and internationally for its innovative approaches to designing health care facilities. The design process also included visits to other medical facilities to better understand modern medicine’s changing needs and requirements.

The resulting 157,000-square-foot state-of-the-art ambulatory care center facility includes multiple primary and specialty medicine clinics, five new outpatient operating rooms, a new outpatient radiology department and VA NWIHCS’ first dedicated Women Veterans Health Clinic.  Coupled with numerous design elements – such as the multicolored ribbon wall, the highly reflective flag wall, and Veterans’ hallway – the ACC stands as both extremely functional and meaningful.

“Ultimately, (it allows us to strive) to provide the best healthcare experience to our Veterans,” he said.

That approach to functional design was noted by the AIA in its final selection. “A standout among the department’s more than 1,200 facilities, the inspired architecture offers a meaningful experience for both patients and staff,” the AIA wrote in its final award narrative. “The architects were able to provide an uplifting spirit through their use of color that referenced military ribbons and created an interest play of colors inside.”

Hailey said winning the award is both meaningful and a reflection of many years of hard work.

“NWIHCS is very proud of this award,” he said. “(It helps) distinguish us as one of the forefront Veteran healthcare facilities in the United States that places the quality of our healthcare to the highest standard for our nation’s Veterans.”

You can read more about the award here: 2021 Healthcare Design Awards - AIA

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