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2 The Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center
Built for flexibility
Built for flexibility, the seven-story facility can easily adapt to changing research agendas.
The hospital will open with 242 inpatient beds and 80 day-hospital stations, but patient
rooms are large, and capacity can expand to 400 should the need arise. Patient care units on
floors 1, 3, 5, and 7 alternate with floors of “interstitial” (in-between) space on floors 2, 4,
and 6, which will permit rapid changes in the use of space and in air-handling systems and
other infrastructure, without moving or disturbing the patients. This arrangement allows the
hospital to open with 25 rooms with negative airflow (preventing air from exiting, to shield
staff and other patients from exposure to highly infectious diseases such as SARS) and 30
rooms with positive airflow (blowing air out, to protect patients with severe immune
deficiencies from exposure to infectious diseases).
The day-hospital stations will allow outpatients to participate in research studies — in new
therapeutic approaches using gene therapy or stem cell therapy, for instance — without being
admitted to an inpatient unit for overnight stays. A special pharmacy will enable the custom
manufacture of small quantities of new drugs for initial evaluation in patients.
In the new center, several institutes are planning cross-institute collaboration on programs to
address the problem of obesity. The plan is to address the problem at several levels, from
molecular to behavioral. The goal: to generate new knowledge about the pathophysiology,
prevention, and treatment of obesity and the conditions and diseases with which it is
associated — especially type 2 diabetes and its complications.
The new facility will also contain a self-care unit to facilitate clinical trials of new vaccines
and to allow containment studies of volunteers receiving live-virus vaccines. This
reconfigured space will be designed in such a way that it can be used as a step-down unit for
all institutes, when not serving as an isolation unit.
Several patient care units will support long-term studies of patients with behavioral-health
diseases such as schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism, and obesity. The study and treatment
of these diseases often requires longer patient stays, so these units contain special areas for
dining, exercise, interaction, and group therapy — and other resources to help patients leave
their homes and communities.
The unique combination of special staff and facilities provides a spectacular opportunity
for breakthrough observations.
To accommodate the building’s large footprint, horizontal orientation, and long distances,
there are 36 elevators, to move people and materials up and down quickly. An extra-wide
corridor in the basement runs around the whole building, along which small trucks pulling
tugger devices can transport food and other materials.