The Institute for Specialized Medicine & Intervention provides underserved women, transgender, immigrant and other patients with compassionate, accessible, specialty medical care. HOK designed ISMI’s new 4,100-square-foot (380-square-meter) clinic in Kirkland, Quebec, as a spa-like, patient-centered experience.

Supporting the modern, comforting, healing environment, HOK specified Rockfon Medical Plus acoustic stone wool ceiling panels for all of ISMI’s treatment rooms. Focused on providing a stress-free setting, these rooms are where patients receive their most intimate care for breast and prostate cancer, pain management, pediatric ultrasound, and other screening and treatment procedures.

For the ISMI clinic’s interior build-out, New England Gypsum supplied Design Acoustics, Inc. with Rockfon Medical Plus ceiling panels and installed the panels in Chicago Metallic suspension systems.

“Combined with ISMI’s holistic healing approach, the entire space provides a soothing experience that sets the institute apart,” HOK stated.

ISMI’s neutral, modern aesthetic is also conveyed with the white, smooth surface of Rockfon’s stone wool ceiling panels. Beyond appearance, the acoustic ceiling tiles support the institute’s clinical requirements and have best-level acoustic performance.

ISMI’s mission-driven pillars of care, dignity and hope inspired HOK’s design with a body-positive, confident, warm, mindful, hospitality-like atmosphere. Natural materials and biophilic elements, such as the stone wool ceiling panels and living plant walls, tether patients to their surrounding environment and community. In the treatment rooms, serenity, comfort and wellness are prioritized. Each room features individualized controls to adjust temperature and lighting, as well as optimized acoustics with Rockfon’s sound-absorbing ceiling panels.

“For our client, the objective was for everyone who comes to the Institute for Specialized Medicine & Intervention to leave better than when they came – this needed to be true of the staff as well,” HOK elaborated.

“A lot of people coming to this clinic find out that they have cancer or need some kind of treatment that’s going to be particularly painful, like surgery or chemotherapy, so the space and brand needed to reflect a sensitivity toward the emotions accompanying that experience,” said Bethany Foss, senior associate and senior design specialist for HOK’s Experience Design group.

“Based on the invasive and emotional nature of some procedures taking place in the clinic, our design creates a calming environment,” HOK explained. “Soft, neutral colors and a minimalist design evoke a spa-like environment that puts patients at ease.”

Contributing to ISMI’s hygienic, medical environment, Rockfon Medical Plus ceiling panels meet Clean Room ISO Class 4 standards and microbiological class M1 Zone 4 (very high risk) requirements. Stone wool naturally resists moisture and does not support the growth of mold, mildew or other microorganisms. All of the Rockfon Medical ceiling panels are Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus-resistant. Further supporting healthy interiors and indoor air quality, all of Rockfon’s stone wool products are UL GREENGUARD Gold Certified for low emissions.

A positive acoustic experience at ISMI is essential to creating a calm, inclusive, comfortable experience for both staff and patients. In nearly any situation, noise can heighten people’s stress levels and interrupt their concentration. In medical facilities, accuracy and clarity are critical for care. Research also shows that a calm, quiet patient experience contributes to fewer pain medications and faster recovery.

In treatment procedure rooms, where listening and comprehensive can be vital, Rockfon Medical Plus acoustic stone wool ceiling panels deliver best-level sound absorption with a Noise Reduction Coefficient of 0.90. This high acoustic performance helps ensure patients’ needs and wishes are heard, and medical instructions and treatment are clearly understood.

HOK worked closely with ISMI’s staff to design a facility where patients of all backgrounds felt welcome. “Promoting an inclusive environment is paramount to the client, who had recognized that negative experiences disproportionately affect marginalized people, including women, children, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals,” HOK said. “Additionally, care was not easily accessible or welcoming to immigrants and non-native speakers.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our client recognized an increased distrust of the health care system and, therefore, a discomfort in [their] patients,” HOK continued. “The pandemic had exacerbated an already-existing fear of medical procedures and the professionals administering them. Our client’s goal was to build a place where patients would want to come because they know they would receive state-of-the-art care, and an unparalleled experience that would banish their anxieties and promote healing.”

“We wanted to stay away from anything that was too clinical,” said Sara Dagovic, NCIDQ, ARIDO, LEED Green Associate, senior project interior designer and studio design lead at HOK. “The biggest commentary from the doctor was, ‘It can’t feel cold.’”

Honoring ISMI and HOK’s excellence in design, the project has received several accolades:

  • Interior Design Awards 2023 winner in the Public Interior Design – Health Care category
  • International Interior Design Association’s Health Care Design Awards 2023 winner in the Ambulatory/Specialty Clinic category
  • IIDA’s Global Excellence Award 2022 winner in the Health Care category
  • Special Mention at the Architizer A+ Awards in the Institutional – Hospitals and Health Care Centers category