Fort Yuma Health Care Center Awarded LEED Gold Building Certification

October 10, 2018

Fort Yuma Health Care Center, operated by Indian Health Service, has been awarded LEED Gold from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is the most widely used green building rating system and provides a framework for sustainable design.

Located in Winterhaven, California, Fort Yuma Health Care Center opened in 2018 and offers an array of outpatient and inpatient services to the local Quechan and Cocopah tribes. 

Patient experience, cultural sensitivity, and comfort was at the core of consideration when designing outpatient services for the two tribes near Yuma, Arizona. 

From the patient’s perspective, a visit begins at the shaded drop-off and leads to the building’s main organizing element, a day-lighted, major concourse providing separate staff and patient entries and waiting area. 

Supporting the Indian Health Service’s chronic care and LEAN process initiatives, departments are organized to reflect critical and desirable adjacency. Clear zoning separates patient and staff areas, providing logical patient flow and wayfinding. To provide efficient workflow and maximum visual access to patients, primary care areas consist of core working space ringed by exam rooms and staff workspace, day-lighted to create a calming environment.

With clear skies and a mild climate, a key feature of the architecture is the provision of shade and wind protection. An east facing courtyard allows the functional and visual reliance on exterior space to provide waiting, gathering, and therapeutic functions. The project utilizes various sustainable design strategies. A sustainable landscape design reflects the character and culture of the “River People” of the Colorado River Valley.

Design Features

The patient population served by the Fort Yuma Health Care Center suffers from one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world - 23.9% compared to the US national rate of 7%. To combat this epidemic, the Center is implementing the Chronic Care Initiative, a strategy of the Indian Health Service, which seeks to improve overall health through Care Teams which aggressively and comprehensively address chronic disease through a coordinated approach.

The facility is designed to support the Chronic Care Initiative and the Patient-Centered Medical Home concept. Staff interaction and collaboration are encouraged and enhanced, both within and between departments. Health care is delivered in a way that maximizes patient access, comfort and convenience.

The primary care clinic is divided into two team zones which can support each other as patient demand varies, and can adapt as the patient care philosophy of the facility evolves. Each zone consists of an open work area, ringed by patient treatment spaces which maximize care giver interaction with patients and each other. Daylight is brought into these core spaces by a series of clerestories for patient and staff well-being.

Ecological Impact: Key Sustainable Design Elements

  • Photovoltaic panels are integrated into the project in a way that becomes visible to the public and part of the architectural expression of the building; they supply 50% of the building’s energy.
  • Energy savings at 42% over ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2004, and energy cost savings of 26% for five LEED points.
  • Solar hot water for 2.5% of domestic use.
  • No potable water for landscape irrigation, which instead uses reclaimed blow-down water from HVAC equipment.
  • The building is “tuned” to the sun, in order to maximize day lighting and views, while shielding the building from heat gain-the courtyard opens to the east, minimal openings on the west, glazing faces north, and windows are inset in deep double walls for shading.
  • The project site was previously a trailer park, with storm flows being discharged in an uncontrolled fashion. Fort Yuma Health Care Center was designed to achieve LEED credits for storm water quantity and quality, with all storm flows retained on site.