A regional prototype outpatient care medical
facility located in Simi Valley, Califiornia. Support
services include a same-day surgicenter for
cases which in the past required overnight stays,
diagnostic imaging center with a wide complement
of procedures are performed such as ultrasound,
mammography, CT scanning, fluoroscopy, and X-ray.
Clinical lab services, the latest Endoscopy lab and
gastrointestinal lab, Home Health Center, Breast
Center, Pain Management Center and Colo-Rectal
Center round out the comprehensive one-stop patient
visit within a holistic setting.
The main building entry creates a focal point for
community activities and festive events which require
Open since January 1989, the Aspen Center Medical Complex successfully brings together humanistic patient services, and efficient, technologically advanced facilities in a dramatic architectural setting. Aspen Center's architect, J. Paul Lindblad, Principal of Lindblad Architects, expressed and refined the sleek glass and concrete high-tech design theme to complement state-of-the-art outpatient support and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment, the most technologically advanced diagnostic tool available to medicine today.
Clear room dimension design requirements for the Main Building (comprising diagnostic service and treatment) generated a typical 24 foot wide by 36 foot deep structural bay. A 45° angled, 30-foot wide, 36-foot tall main public waiting and patient entry reception penetrates the northwest building corner and features a two-story reflective glass, 50-foot long skylight and exposed glass elevator. Nova Engineering designed a long span post-tensioned concrete frame for the main building to allow critical room dimensions and flexibility, wood frame construction for the MRI building to minimize magnetic field interference, and steel framing to allow clarity in the main entry and MRI entry arcade.
Storms and Lowe contributed mechanical and electrical engineering experience required for the special systems and sophisticated support facilities. Jones Construction Management provided construction management services based on a design-build approach to best answer the project sequencing and construction problems. With a ratio of 31,620 net square feet to 35,500 gross, the 89% efficiency rate of the Aspen Center is a competitive rate for the medicenter, a medical office building prototype. The Architect and consulting engineers worked closely to minimize the volume of non-usable space in various ways. For example, a glass curtain wall was placed over a clear span concrete moment-resisting structural system to free core and shell areas for greater space planning efficiency. Heating and cooling equipment was located on the roof top to increase net usable area inside. Public restrooms were centralized where possible to avoid any annoying interference experienced by departments.
A Welcoming Space
The modernist, sleek bronze-reflective
glass and post-tensioned building structure
sports an impressive two-story glass enclosed
elevator within a mall with fountains, notable works
of art and plantings which combine to give the
patient a sense of wellness that blends with the
area's progressive and friendly spirit.
The specific mix of Aspen Center's core services: administration systems, lab services, endoscopy services, home health care, same day surgeries, diagnostic imaging center, MRI, and a future cardiovascular/catheterization lab define the Center as a leading catalyst for changing traditional health care systems in the future to more economical, faster, simpler diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Ambulatory patient care and surgery reduce the need for overnight facilities. The methodology is particularly suited to the lifestyle and consumer demands of an aging national "baby-boomer" population that generates an corresponding increased patient load.
High Tech Diagnostics
This pioneering medical center offers residents of the West San Fernando Valley and Ventura County one of the first installations of Magnetic Resonating Imaging (MRI), the state-of-the-art non-evasive diagnostic tool.
Inside the new offices of Lindblad Architects
MRI is the most advanced diagnostic tool available today which allows the medical clinician to view the interior of the human body with a superior method than X-rays because no radiation is used. MRI images have much better resolution than CT scans and are able to discern different body tissues in healthy and diseased conditions without making an incision. MRI hardware configuration is a cylindrical magnet with a bore large enough to slide a patient through on a moving table. The nuclei of our body's biochemical elements, such as hydrogen and carbon, have magnetic properties. When a uniform magnetic field is applied, bulk magnetization is created parallel to the field. A second magnetic field is applied rotating with the nuclei's unique Larmor frequency which is based on properties of the nucleus and the strength of the applied magnetic field. Radio frequencies (RF) are applied (as gradients) in sequential pulsations on the nuclei defining the image "slice" and causing them to skew. After the pulses are turned off and on, the nuclei tilt returns to its original position, resonating faint radio signals (Free Induction Decay - FID). Reading FID signals using Fourier transforms, a computer can plot their location and produce an image of the body's interior and its biochemical nature.
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As can be expected, being surrounded by the magnet's bore and the sound of emitting radio signals can be a frightening experience, especially for the uninitiated. "To diminish such fears," comments Architect Lindblad, "We conceived the Aspen Center to elicit the openness and vitality required to form a sense of well-being for patients and visitors." The Center's design underscores the rolling hills and open expanse of Simi Valley. Lindblad points out that while an architect's immediate response to the design problem might have been a different building style, the center's location within Simi Valley's medical campus and rapidly expanding area, and the need for the building to identify visitors with the Center's leading technology made high-tech the suitable architectural response.
The Ambulatory Surgery Department has three surgery suites with the amenities of a good acute care hospital. Day surgical procedure patient flow begins at the two-story entry lobby check-in area. Patient traffic continues into the locker area, through patient preparation into surgery suites, recovery and finally back to the locker area. Surgery patients leave the building using a dedicated exit. Home Health Care provides personal attention and case to patients whose condition prevents a visit to the Center. Services include high-tech nursing, pulmonary and respiratory therapy, chemotherapy, insulin therapy, paranteral nutrition, and intravenous therapy. Medical equipment and supplies for home use can be purchased from the facility.
The Occupational Care Center provides emergency treatment specializing in industrial accidents on a 10-hour day basis. The Radiology Department, in the main building, offers radiological diagnostic tests, ultrasound, and mammography, plus a variety of digital subtraction angiography and computerized tomography (CT scan). The emission tomography unit is one of four installations in Southern California. Aspen Center offers new treatment modalities beyond the core surgical and diagnostic services including: the Breast Center, featuring a cancer awareness program, diagnostic techniques and specialized treatment; the Pain Management Center, focussed on evaluating a patient's medical, psychological, and physical factors to determine the cause of pain; and the Colo-Rectal Center which provides comprehensive colon cancer screening and the most current technology for identifying and treating all rectal problems. Departments on the second floor include general office areas and future plans for a cardiovascular/catheterization lab. Robert Zasa, of Ambulatory Systems Development based in Glendale, whose projects span the U.S. coordinated the development of the Center's services. Says Mr. Zasa: "We brought ambulatory care multiple diagnostic services in one place which complements the Adventist Hospital in-patient care nearby."
The Aspen Center project concept was originated by Dr. Paul Ironside, a thoracic surgeon who then contacted Drs. Aucreman and Hebbard. Together they created a partnership to build an independent medicenter with full diagnostic and treatment capability. The original physician planning group purchased the Aspen Center's building site and finalized partnership agreements with the Adventist Hospital. Lindblad Architects, an architecture firm with a health-care facility emphasis located in Valley Glen CA was selected to design the complex and to obtain various jurisdictional approvals. The Aspen Center epitomizes the rapid change occurring in today's health care delivery system. Third-party payors (Medicare, Medical, and other health insurers) have passed along budget cutbacks to health care providers (physicians) through reimbursement restrictions. Alternate, less expensive health care delivery, best characterized by outpatient diagnostic and treatment centers have the highest ratio of payment dollars to billed charges. Health care providers have responded to this trend by establishing free-standing, non-hospital based medicenters such as the Aspen Center to maintain a marketshare of the health care industry.
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