On the drive to the new United Hospital Center (UHC) in Bridgeport, West Virginia, spectacular mountain scenery reveals itself at every turn. Rolling hills are blanketed in rich layers of texture and color, a unique and stunning background for the hospital that rises up in the foothills of the mountains. With its soaring height and varied layers, the building echoes its setting and embraces the beauty and serenity of the scenery as a foundation for the healing process. At UHC, a healing environment begins with the beautiful West Virginia mountains that give shape to the local community and that inspired the design of the new community hospital.
Nestled among the verdant foothills of those mountains, the hospital site came with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Given the curves and layers of the mountain landscape at that altitude, there was hardly any flat land on the site. Rather than dramatically alter the topography, the design team determined to embrace the uniqueness of the site and create a state-of-the-art healing environment that exists in harmony with the glorious natural environment at its doorstep.
The new 680,000-square-foot, 292-bed replacement hospital was designed as a series of vertical and horizontal layers, the interplay of which echoes the many different layers found within the undulating mountain landscape. The full glass façade of the building provides panoramic views of that landscape and floods the hospital corridors with natural light. The lengthof the hospital, in addition to streamlining operations along patient and staff spines, allows every private patient room to feature wide windows and mountain views. Many studies have shown the importance of natural light and landscapes in patient healing, and UHC’s patients have attested to the positive effects, telling UHC President and CEO Bruce Carter how much they appreciate the views of mountain scenery and the unique design of the hospital itself.
Commenting on the new hospital, Carter said that his leadership team and medical staff was “excited to occupy our new facility and provide our community with a new state-of-the-art facility that better supports our ability to meet their healthcare needs”. Since moving into the new facility, Carter reported, the hospital has seen significant increases in patient and staff satisfaction rates, along with increased interest and hiring prospects among medical professionals and an overall sense of satisfaction within the local community. That satisfaction stems from an appreciation of the advanced and efficient care that the new hospital is able to provide, but more than that, it stems from an appreciation for the setting of that care, the overall healing environment that comes from blending the latest and greatest in healthcare amenities with the timeless beauty of the hospital’s unique setting in the heart of the West Virginia mountains.