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Santa Fe Presbyterian hospital to open Oct. 1

SANTA FE – Santa Fe’s new hospital will soon welcome its first patients.

Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center, a four-story, 342,000 square foot building, will open Oct. 1. The $145 million project near the intersection of Interstate 25 and Cerrillos broke ground in late 2016.

“This building has been designed to promote healing, to promote wellness and provide the best in care,” Helen Brooks, the hospital’s chief executive, said during a preview tour Friday.

“One of the best compliments we get is it doesn’t feel like a hospital,” she said. “And, I think, it doesn’t feel like the hospitals of the past.”

Brooks estimated there will be 300 employees on board by Oct. 1 and said workforce should eventually go up 350 people.


The new Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center in south Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The hospital is Presbyterian’s latest, after facilities in Rio Rancho and Española, to incorporate what architect John Laur called “evidence-based” design, elements intended to support healing. Laur, a principal at Albuquerque firm of Dekker, Perich and Sabatini, mentioned access to natural light, available through plenty of large windows; safety measures like “transition-less” or bump-free floors, including through doorways; and a concept called “biophilia,” the idea that humans desire connections to nature.

“When you can’t see nature, we try and put materials that feel more natural,” said Laur said. The floors are named after and filled with local artwork of outdoors features. A lower level is “Arroyo,” and the names of the first, second and third floors are “Forest,” “Mesa” and “Sky.”


Natural light floods the lobby and dinning area for the new Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The building is divided into the medical center and the Physician Office Building, where Presbyterian Medical Group and other providers will have practices. A rehabilitation facility is also in that wing.

“In the middle, we see this as community spaces,” Brooks said, with a cafeteria, patio, meeting room with a kitchen and chapel. Outside is a pathway with a labyrinth and large metal poles with drumsticks tethered to them that visitors are encouraged to use to play with.

The hospital has 30 private rooms of about 320 square feet each, and there is unused space to accomodate up to 42 rooms total. That doesn’t include the birth unit slated to open in early 2019.

Each room has a patient lift, blinds behind glass to keep them neat and translucent bathroom doors which can seen at night. Laur and Brooks also touted space for families in the rooms, which he said play an “integral part of the healing process.”

“Essentially, a large family area in New Mexico where… one of the patriarchs has an issue, comes to the hospital (and) the whole extended family will show up — having a large family area is good,” Laur said

The hospital’s emergency department has 20 bays and there’s a 14-bay urgent care. Staff will direct patients to the side best suiting their particular medical issue, Brooks said.


Dr. Benjamin Rieff talks about the operating rooms the new Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

“We hope that means we won’t end up with sore throats (or) strep throats in the emergency department and very serious things in urgent care,” she said. We’ll get them to the right place immediately.”

There are four operating rooms. Perioperative medical director Benjamin Reiff described them as “state of the art.”

With views of the surrounding mountain ranges and two bronze sculptures from Jemez pueblo artist Joe Cajero is the second floor’s “Terrace of Blessings and Joy.”

“This is a space for patients, for family members, for our staff who maybe are dealing with something difficult,” Brooks said. “They deal with some tough stuff.” Donor Scottie Pierce provided the $1.3 million for the garden.

The third floor is now empty space where Presbyerian could house physician practices on one side and put in more patient rooms on the other. There is also space for two more operating rooms.

In total, Presbyterian owns 75 acres of land at the site, with miles of hiking and biking trails installed for locals and patients. Brooks said 32 acres will be used as a future health services park. “We look to develop that over time as well, add additional services and really make this a health destination for our community and Northern New Mexico,” said Brooks.


Helen Brooks is chief executive of the new Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Presbyterian will hold a free community festival Sept. 22 with live music, food trucks, free lunch, free flu shots and hospital tours