Walking through the five-year-old Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking you’re in a W Hotel instead of a hospital. A dramatic staircase sweeps down from the second floor into the lobby, where plush sofas and chairs have been arranged around big-screen TVs. The medical center boasts a Starbucks coffee bar, a rooftop garden complete with native grasses, and an upscale dining facility offering fare like fresh salad and cooked-to-order salmon. A number of special private “suites” have been set aside for the families of patients staying overnight.
Forest Park doesn’t even smell like a hospital. That’s because a customized scent called “Clean Sheets” is pumped continuously through the HVAC system, just like at a fancy Ritz-Carlton. Says Carolyn Goodrich, who was waiting in the Forest Park lobby for a relative to be discharged one recent afternoon: “We didn’t know how pleasant it was until we got here.”
All these luxury touches, Forest Park says, are the result of careful planning. “We’re thinking of the patient experience. It’s all about the patient,” says Dr. J. Robert Wyatt, Forest Park’s chief medical officer and one of its managing directors. “When you walk into a hospital for surgery, there’s a lot of anxiety. So we do everything we can to defuse the anxiety.”
Who could argue with an approach to medical care like that? Plenty of people, it turns out.