The healthcare industry is undergoing fundamental changes, driven by a growing emphasis on wellness and preventative care. Tremendous opportunities exist in the current environment for medical institutions of all sizes to create facilities designed to increase positive clinical outcomes while maximizing environmental performance and operating efficiency.
As a result, Kimmerle Group (KG), headquartered in Harding Township, NJ, with offices in New York City, has an increased volume of healthcare assignments that continues to grow. The multifaceted architectural and interior design company – comprised of six affiliated divisions with complementary specialties – offers a wide range of real estate planning and development services.
“The aging of America, particularly in the tri-state area, has increased demand for acute care as well as ambulatory care, skilled nursing and senior care,” explained George J. Kimmerle, AIA, PP, NCARB, president/partner. “We identified the start of this trend more than two decades ago, and since then we have assembled a long list of diverse assignments in medical, hospital, and health institutional planning.”
Simple demographics of the U.S. overall – and the tri-state region in particular – point toward a larger role for health care in all its forms over the coming three decades, according to Kimmerle. “Traditional acute care settings, ambulatory care of a larger and more complex dimension, and a model for senior care are areas that we are particularly invested in. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (consisting of senior living, assisted living and skilled nursing all in one community setting), are all components of a larger network of health delivery that has also come to include home healthcare, wellness, and nutrition alternatives.”
Lean Design Principles Embraced by Healthcare Providers
Throughout its more than 25 year history, KG has maintained a strong focus on healthcare, carving a niche in campus master planning and design for medical facilities. “Our Medical Architecture and Interiors Practice has expanded its role as we serve in many situations as a strategic partner, developer of record, development advisor, planner, urban designer and architect,” Kimmerle explained.
One of the group’s early key assignments, in 2005, was developer of record for the State of New York’s (SUNY Downstate) Medical campus in Brooklyn. Since then, the company has served as developer and development advisor to over a dozen major health systems.
According to Kimmerle, renovations of existing medical facilities combine the latest trends in medical planning. For example, KG uses lean design principles for many of its healthcare facilities. “Lean enables clients to achieve higher efficiencies while maximizing patient-to-doctor contact, new technologies and a more extensive array of specialty practices to treat patients’ needs,” Kimmerle said.
“At the same time, our devotion to design excellence and creating humanistic and comforting health settings is paramount and our understanding of the fundamentals of health delivery including our principal’s academic standing as planners and designers lends a broad and more inclusive methodology in every undertaking.”
Rebranding Entire Health Systems is an Intricate Process
One of the most intriguing developments in the healthcare environment today involves the kinds of transitions taking place according to Kimmerle. “We are contributing to the rebranding of entire health systems,” he said. “The process for the medical center is to identify and commit to Centers of Excellence,” he explained.
One system may excel in stroke treatment, cardiac care, neuroscience, or women’s health and pediatrics, etc. From that point, the reorganization of the medical staff around the stipulated specialty areas, and the redevelopment of facilities in those areas of service with the appropriate technologies, is a natural process according to Kimmerle. “This ultimately benefits the larger health community by enhancing the brand and showcasing identifiable areas of expertise.”
Healthcare is the kind of institutional investment that can make a huge difference not only in the lives of patients for generations to come, but in the vitality of entire communities. KG is committed to being a part of the solution in the transition of the health system for a new generation of service in the tri-state area.
The group functions as a strategic planner and advisor in the rebranding process, working to jump-start economic activity for a healthcare system. “We analyze, master plan, design and implement the plan and even help secure the financial resources through our affiliate MedDev, which provides funding through investment funds and publically traded REITs. “This is a vital service to ensure that a health system will successfully achieve its critical transition,” Kimmerle noted.
Dozens of Assignments Characterize the Potential and Reality over the Years
For example, KG recently succeeded in helping Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains reenvision itself through a planned expansion project. Part of the Atlantic Health System, one of the largest non-profit health care systems in New Jersey, the project will transform the institution’s physical plant and also the way Chilton delivers care. The project includes a new 130,000-sq.-ft. Ambulatory Care Center, and the creation of hospice and child care facilities on campus. These significant undertakings to reposition Chilton as a leader in women’s health, stroke and cardiac care, helped to spur even more investment and innovation at this Northwestern New Jersey medical facility.
KG’s master planning efforts involved obtaining all necessary entitlements and approvals for this project. The Chilton facility awaits the next stage of development following the Atlantic Health System merger in 2015.
KG’s recent assignments also included formulating build-to-suit sale leaseback transactions for Brooklyn Hospital and Maimonides Medical Center (MMC). “Additionally, we have been active in a number of realignments including Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, N.Y.; Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.; New York-Presbyterian/Queens in Flushing, N.Y.,” Kimmerle said.
The MMC building broke ground last fall and is scheduled for completion in mid-2017. The Ambulatory Care center will provide over 140,000 square feet of medical office and practice space on campus, and a 150-car garage. Facilities are being relocated from MMCs inpatient buildings, allowing MMC to renovate and expand the much needed acute care areas sorely needed in the Borough Park community. Kimmerle Group, through its affiliate MedDev, arranged funding through an Ohio-based REIT that will fully fund this expansion through a non-capital/operating lease.
Not to be forgotten are the special needs of a growing mentally and physically disabled population, and the Kimmerle team has a long term and committed strategy of assisting these at risk populations in an array of settings from housing, to training and nursing care. “Our range is incredibly broad and both our N.J. and New York City offices participate in these offerings across the tri-state area,” Kimmerle said.