Case Study Lighthouse Surgery Center

Lighthouse Surgery Center is a state-of-the-art ambulatory orthopedic and spine surgery center designed for comprehensive outpatient surgical procedures. The Center is a joint venture between 16 orthopedic surgeons who specialize in joint replacements, spine and sports-related injuries, as well as Woodland Anesthesiology Associates and Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center (part of Trinity Health of New England). Six orthopedic operating rooms, one room for procedures that don’t require sedation, and on-site physical therapy create a patient-centered experience where people can get all the services they need under one roof.


Hartford, Connecticut

Project Specs

Area: 36,000 sq. ft.
Stories: 1 floor
Employees: 50+

A Warm Welcome and Calming Experience

The partners of the Lighthouse Surgery Center recognized that surgery can be stressful for patients and their families. They sought a flexible space that would put both patients and their families at ease. The waiting area needed to provide social as well as private spaces, including spots for those who work while waiting.

The Center is a place where staff spends a majority of their time. They needed an environment that energizes them and provides places to relax. The partners also wanted a facility that will help attract younger talent as staff members retire.

Natural Serenity for Patients and Families

People visiting healthcare facilities tend to be stressed—even scared. To alleviate these feelings, the Center created a set of cohesive micro-environments within the greater space—all designed so that people experience a calm feeling of serenity wherever they move in the space—within the lobby, through the corridors, to the operating rooms, and in recovery bays. From the large windows that allow natural light to flood the waiting area to wood tones and colors that invoke a connection with nature, the Lighthouse Surgery Center feels more like a spa or first-class lounge than a medical center.

Just as lighthouses are surrounded by waters of calming hues, the color palette reflects the serenity of water. Soothing, soft tones of blue and green are used in patient and waiting areas to create a sense of calm for patients and families as well as staff. Driftwood is reflected in the soft gray, wood-plank pattern on the floor, in textured wall coverings, and the fireplace surround. Stained woods surfaces, from natural hues to dark espresso also play a role in creating a feeling of Zen.

Daylight and views to the outside are incorporated into the waiting room, recovery rooms, and the staff break room to help create a buffer against the negative effects of stress. The windows support the well-being of both the patients and staff—helping to satisfy the inherent human need to connect with the outdoors. Other natural elements include a fireplace with color-changing ambient lighting in the waiting area that set a mood that feels more residential than medical.

A Patient-Focused Surgical Center

Much of the space at the Lighthouse Surgery Center is dedicated to patient procedures and technical support, including the operating rooms, a central processing area where equipment is sterilized, and pre- and post-op rooms. In some healthcare facilities, these areas don’t get a lot of attention to design. At the Center, design elements are used to blend a patient’s experience from one area to another seamlessly, while furnishings support both movement and rest.

Orthopedic patients come into the Center with a broad range of spine, shoulder, hand, hip, knee, ankle, and foot issues. Corridors, doorways, and furnishings are all thoughtfully positioned so spaces can be accessed using crutches, walkers, or wheelchairs. A variety of furniture is available to provide support and comfort for patients of all shapes, sizes, and needs. Patient chairs have arms and firm seats engineered to make them easy to get in and out of. For patients with spine, hip, or other joint problems, sitting can be uncomfortable. Tables where they can stand and rest, check their phone, or just look out the window provide just the right support.

Designed with the future in mind, The Center’s flexible operating and procedure spaces can be easily adapted for new uses and new technology. For example, Medicare recently approved hip and knee replacements to be done in freestanding surgery centers. The Center doesn’t need to make any renovations to provide these surgeries because operating rooms have no built-in cabinets. Instead, carts move in and out of the rooms, allowing doctors to quickly change the equipment, processes, and even procedures.

Comfort for Those Who Wait

Design research showed that patients and their families use waiting areas in healthcare settings in numerous ways—sometimes for just 10 minutes and other times for several hours. To make this time more comfortable, the Center’s lobby and waiting areas use furniture to create spaces for socializing or privacy. Comfortable seating for individuals is available throughout the space. In addition to providing ergonomic comfort, the seating meets Healthier Hospital Initiatives (HHI) requirements. Flexible and moveable lounge seating can be easily configured to accommodate larger families, including those with young children.

There are even workspaces with power and Wi-Fi to support people who need to work while waiting for a loved one in surgery. These spaces blend seamlessly into the waiting area, with modern pieces and unique architectural features that provide both privacy and comfort. Seated and standing desks give people options and allow them to change postures as desired.

Supportive Spaces for Staff

Staff members at the Lighthouse Surgery Center were involved during the design process to make sure the new space would allow them to move around freely, have access to patients, and provide spaces for them to relax and recover from the stress of caring for patients.

Because everyone doesn’t work the same way, workspaces are flexible and furniture is adjustable for the comfort of each staff member. Workstation desks allow people to either sit or stand. Ergonomic, adjustable chairs provide staff members with all-day support and comfort regardless of size, posture, or work mode. Mobile furniture in the training room and offices allows staff to move desks, chairs, and meeting tables as needed.

The break room, where large windows provide natural light, was inspired by a local coffee shop. Staff can relax and chat at a high-top or find solitude at a table in corner. These elements create a work environment that supports productivity but does not lead to burnout.

A Balance That Serves Patients, Their Families, and Staff

The greatest success of this project was striking a balance between the realities of a surgical center and providing a positive experience for patients and staff. Experienced in its entirety, the design of the Lighthouse Surgery Center makes people feel better while they are receiving care, waiting, or working. Natural elements, ergonomic furnishings with finishes that are easy to clean, and attention to the experience of patients and staff truly make the Center a place that promotes health and well-being.

A combination of products from Haworth, Haworth Health, and Haworth Collection were selected for aesthetics as well as function and flexibility to create a healing environment for patients, solace for family members, and support for staff, now and as needs change in the future.

“When you walk through the center, you see a lot of the unique things. It is a reflection on a really good understanding of what our patients and what our patients' families are looking for when they come here.”

DR. Michael Joyce

President, CEO and Orthopedic Surgeon, Lighthouse Surgery Center