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The Planned Parenthood Vista Isabella Center, once located in a Carlsbad shopping center, opened its doors this spring in a gleaming, newly developed medical plaza just off of Highway 78. Not only does the center feature a brand new building with an open, inviting and newly designed layout, its location also lends itself to greater safety and comfort for both patients and staff.


“While we were located in Carlsbad, protestors would confront and attempt to intimidate our patients and staff. Our new location doesn’t allow protesters on our property, so it’s a more positive and pleasant experience for everyone overall,” the health center manager said.

A better experience, which is a welcome surprise to patients, is just one of the many beneficial and intentional outcomes of the center’s relocation to Vista, where it moved to accommodate the growing reproductive health care needs of the community.

“Outstanding service, attention and facilities! You’re a total asset to women’s health and our community,” said a patient who recently visited the center.

The new building and design is one of the first of its kind and a standard for future Planned Parenthood centers in San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties. It utilizes an innovative, user-friendly design, which aims to better serve patient and staff needs.

Some new features patients encounter when visiting the center are:

  • Open floor plan that includes chairs at the front desk for patients to sit in as they fill out paperwork
  • Variety of seating options in the lobby (including swivel chairs and sofa seating as well as table areas to charge laptops and phones)
  • Windows throughout the lobby and exam rooms
  • Music streaming in the lobby and exam rooms
  • Eco-friendly lighting that adjusts based on the amount of natural light

The new center improves staff efficiency. For example, there are patient bathrooms on both sides of the center and an additional ultrasound machine that can be used in any room. This helps staff minimize the amount of time they spend walking around the center, and maximizes the amount of time they can spend with patients. The staff also benefits from an open, collaborative workspace, separate lab and sterilization areas for instruments, and a break room with plenty of windows and tables.

“The new facility is awesome. I felt very comfortable in the waiting room, and the exam rooms are very spacious. I love the new place with the same great staff,” said another patient who visited the center.

The basis of the design was developed by Planned Parenthood staff with the guidance of architecture firm Boulder Associates Inc., which specializes in health care facilities.

In 2014, Planned Parenthood staff and stakeholders created a full-scale, mockup of the ideal health center at a single-story warehouse using cardboard and tape. They refined a design for the most efficient, patient-centered health center possible.

“The whole idea of the prototype was to keep things as flexible as possible,” said Lori Keim, senior director of business initiatives. “With all of the rapid change occurring in today’s health care delivery models, we need to make sure we can accommodate those developments seamlessly.”

In the course of a week, the team ran simulations, reflected on the outcomes, and modified the mockups based on efficient workflows and higher satisfaction for patients and staff.

What resulted was an ideal health center with waiting rooms, exam rooms, team collaboration space, quick visit tracks, labs and bathrooms re-envisioned to eliminate wasteful practices and focus on preserving value. The blueprint for the ideal health center has now been used to build both the Imperial Valley and Vista Isabella health centers.

“We continue to receive positive feedback from patients. Our team is so grateful for all of the donors and board members whose dedication, support and passion for our mission has allowed us to build the center of the future for a community in need,” the health center manager said.


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