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‘I’ve Seen Healthcare Inequality Firsthand’: OpenSquare’s Rhonda Pollard At Bisnow’s Pacific Northwest Healthcare Summit

Rhonda Pollard, OpenSquare's director of workplace consulting
Rhonda Pollard, OpenSquare's director of workplace consulting

Technology is transforming the healthcare industry faster than many facilities can change. How can hospitals implement new tech without breaking the bank? How will evolving patient needs impact the way healthcare facilities are designed? The biggest names in healthcare in the Pacific Northwest, including OpenSquare’s Rhonda Pollard, will gather to discuss these questions and more at Bisnow’s Pacific Northwest Healthcare Summit event on Oct. 31. Register here for the event

In the U.S., there is a massive divide between the health outcomes of the country’s richest and poorest residents. The U.S. has some of the widest healthcare inequality levels in the developed world — the country ranked third to last in a 2017 study. Rhonda Pollard is committed to doing everything she can to close that gap. 

“I grew up on Medicaid in a small town in the Midwest where we had limited access to care, and I saw healthcare inequality firsthand,” Pollard said. “I am passionate about figuring out how to provide greater healthcare options to people who lose out simply because of where they were born.”  

As OpenSquare’s director of workplace consulting, with a specific focus on healthcare facilities, Pollard has the opportunity to help her clients design spaces where people of all economic backgrounds can receive the care they need.

Bisnow spoke to Pollard to learn more about her recent projects and what she’s looking forward to at our Pacific Northwest Healthcare Summit event on Oct. 31.

Bisnow: How does the design of a healthcare facility impact patient care? 

Pollard: So many ways. When someone enters a healthcare facility, they are at their most vulnerable, but the right design can help calm their nerves and put their families at ease. The welcome area should be a clean, calming space that clearly lays out a patients’ path to meet with their providers. The parking structure should be simple to navigate and lead directly to the care facility entrance.

It’s also important to have a multitude of comfortable places where people can continue their lives, where family members can spend hours waiting for their loved ones. Facilities need spaces where families can work, eat and relax.  

Bisnow: How can healthcare facilities plan for the future?

Pollard: Flexibility and adaptability are key. As technology continues to transform the industry, it’s our job to make sure that the hospitals and medical facilities we help design are flexible enough to adapt to the technological advances that will come five, 10 or 20 years from now.  

You can’t just keep pouring money into hospitals and charging people more for care that they are already struggling to afford. This is why we try to help our clients see the future of healthcare so they can plan for it now, rather than having to spend more to adapt to it.

Bisnow: Can you tell me about the healthcare facility you helped design in Auburn, Washington? 

Pollard: We felt so honored to be part of this project. Our team worked with the Muckleshoot Tribe, in collaboration with Indigenous Pact, a nonprofit that helps tribal health leaders generate sustainable revenue from patient services and deliver better health outcomes and access for all tribal citizens, to transform an 11K SF raw space into a multipurpose clinic that is serving both the tribe and Medicare or Medicaid patients in the area.

Patients at the We Care Daily Clinic primarily come for treatment of substance use disorders, like the opioid epidemic that we hear so much about, and we wanted to create a space that could offer them more. Most dosing clinics are sterile and uninviting, but when you walk into the We Care clinic you’re not greeted by bulletproof glass or an imposing security desk. Instead, there’s an open lounge that resembles a café. Along with recovery management, the clinic offers everything from healthcare checkups, to nutrition tips to counseling services.

There are also additional lounge spaces throughout where the community can come together to hold events. Every space was designed to have four or even five different uses. It’s a more humanized, connected experience that creates a sense of community while addressing patients’ needs.

Bisnow: What are you looking forward to at Bisnow’s Pacific Northwest Healthcare Summit

Pollard: I really focus on the business side of healthcare, studying what keeps CEOs up at night and how we can work with them to eliminate some of those stressors. I love getting the opportunity to talk with CEOs about the challenges they are facing and learning how we can support them, and the Bisnow Summit is a great place for me to do that. 

Bisnow: What are you passionate about outside of work? 

Pollard: Having grown up in an area with limited healthcare options, I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to meet the right people and work with mentors who helped me build a life in a part of the country where I have more opportunities, and I spend a lot of my time volunteering and figuring out how I can pay that forward. I also love spending quality time with my family, dog, and wellness practices like meditation and yoga, to stay as healthy as I can.

Rhonda Pollard will be a moderator at Bisnow’s upcoming Pacific Northwest National Healthcare Series on Oct. 31. Register here for the event.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and OpenSquare. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.