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National City Center Designed to Keep Seniors Engaged

REAL ESTATE: San Ysidro Health Building $48.5M Center

San Ysidro Health is building a $48.5 million center in National City that combines health care services with social support aimed at keeping older people out of nursing homes.

Designed by FS Design Group, based in Mission Valley, the National City center will be part of a network of five such centers operated by San Ysidro Health under the federal PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly).

PACE is open to people 55 and older, most of whom are eligible for Medi-Cal, according to Alicia Rodriguez, vice president and chief of senior health services of San Ysidro Health.

Bre’an Fox
Founder
FS Design Group

“The PACE facilities are really a daytime recreational, socialization care facility with a clinic attached to it,” said Bre’an Fox, founder of FS Design Group. “It’s all right there, so they get all those services provided while they’re there for the day.”

In addition to the one in National City, FS Design Group has designed two others for San Ysidro Health – San Diego PACE in Chula Vista at 880 3rd Ave. and San Diego PACE Vista at 1840 West Drive.

“San Ysidro has been a client for a long time. They were one of the early groups that we became aware of that started offering a PACE environment,” Fox said.

Raymond Fox Associates led by Bre’an Fox’s husband, Raymond Fox, is the architect.

Welcoming

“In the National City facility, we have a design theme of the ocean and water elements because they will have a view across to the harbor,” Fox said. The primary color palette is aqua blues, turquoise and coral colors.

In part because of the age group they serve, PACE centers have special design requirements, Fox said.

“Walkways need to be wide. The bathrooms, the personal care areas also need to be wide so that a participant or a staff member can comfortably navigate them,” Fox said.

Special care also is required in designing transition areas to avoid creating bumps in the surface, “mostly because of walkers, but also some people don’t pick up their feet all the way as they get old,” Fox said.

“We’re very cautious about smooth floor transitions,” Fox said. “We have to be very careful about flooring materials. We can’t have high contrast, especially going from a light floor (color) to a dark floor.”

As people age, they can have trouble with depth perception, so a dark floor can look like a hole that they have to step down into, which can cause a fall.

It’s also important to avoid busy patterns in everything from wall coverings to furnishings.

“Very busy small patterns can cause dizziness and vertigo if someone is subject to that,” Fox said.

The furnishings include high-back lounge chairs for comfortable seating that are easily cleaned.

Acoustic panels and noise dampening ceiling materials help tone down the sound level in the main room.

To create a sense of warmth, the primary entrance to the National City PACE is a two-story space filled with natural light from large windows facing south. The flooring is a medium-toned walnut wood-look vinyl planking similar to that used in homes and hotels.

“You want people to feel comfortable immediately, warm and welcomed, so it has that hospitality look,” Fox said, similar to that of an upscale hotel.

The center will have a walking track around the perimeter, a fireplace in the main room with seating arranged around it.

Counseling areas and staff workstations are grouped around a large central area.

“The really important part is that staff needs to be able to take a look around and see everything,” Fox said.  “There are quiet rooms if someone’s not feeling well or they just don’t want to participate in activities,” Fox said.

The National City center is expected to serve 600 people annually and will have a staff of about 160, Rodriguez said. She said that in all, San Ysidro Health has 2,587 employees, including 567 who work in PACE.

FS Design Group

Founded: 1992
Owner/principal: Amy Tobia
Headquarters: Mission Valley
Business: Interior design
Employees: 9
Contact: info@fsdesigngrp.com; 619-296-3500
Website: www.fsdesigngrp.com
Notable: boutique design firm focused on commercial office, tenant improvements, healthcare and building reimaging.

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