A Comfortable Place to Heal

New Duke Medicine Pavilion opens to the public.
September 17, 2013

The term “medical pavilion” doesn’t typically conjure up notions of comfort, yet much of the conversation surrounding the late-June opening of the Duke Medicine Pavilion seemed to be about the eight-floor, 608,000-square-foot center’s cozy allure.

Folks marveled at the floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the interior with sunlight and the carpet-lined waiting rooms with their expansive canvases by local artists depicting landscapes of North Carolina’s beaches and forests. Flat-screen televisions await visitors and patients, as do rocking chairs and fully reclining armchairs. A Durham resident told The Chronicle those recliners felt like “being on a cloud.”

Efficient and alluring: A big change in 608,000 square feet. Jared Lazarus.

Of course, the nearly $600 million spent on the new pavilion included some practical components as well. It adds forty-four pre-operation bays and eighteen operating rooms to Duke North, units that are generally bigger and stocked with advanced technology. For instance, patients lying in the new pre-op bays will have their vital signs monitored and connected to the nurse’s phone, so the nurse can respond quickly to sudden changes. Equipment lowers from the ceiling in the new operating rooms and contains its own power source. Surgeons have access to an intraoperative MRI machine in two of the operating rooms, which shows detailed images of the body’s interior during ongoing operations.

And there’s an addition that combines both ambiance and practicality: Adjustable LED diodes light operating rooms based on the physician’s preference. Besides the low energy usage, they cool things off for surgeons who can get overheated from the layers of sterile clothes, patient body temperatures, and, presumably, the pressures of surgery.