Friendly faces and wide-open spaces define the new outpost that is Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks
by Joan Brasher
photography by John Russell
Visitors to Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks are likely first to notice the expansive walkways and towering ceilings. With more than 500,000 square feet of clinic space, thoroughfares and waiting areas, the development is impressive, to be sure. But a closer look reveals attention to the smallest detail.
Within this sprawling collection of suites, it is not uncommon to see children working the controls of an elaborate model train set; a pianist playing a quiet tune on a Steinway grand; or volunteers with pet therapy dogs cheering up pediatric patients and adults alike. There are friendly greeters at every entrance; free parking, valet parking and shuttle service; kiosks for easy check-in; and individual pagers for maximum freedom to move about.
Though the development is located in the historic burg of Flatrock (adjacent to Berry Hill), several miles from Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s main campus on 21st Avenue South, Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks offers the same quality of care patients have come to expect from VUMC’s other facilities. Likewise, steps are taken daily to ensure the 750-plus employees at this outpost feel comfortably gathered under the university’s wing. One Hundred Oaks, nestled within a shopping center that includes Ross Dress For Less and T.J. Maxx, is clearly distinguishable as a Vanderbilt entity while possessing a personality all its own.
In June 2008, the Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic opened as the first resident of OHO. The development – which has freed up office and parking space at the main campus and given clinics the liberty to expand – has populated steadily, despite the world economic downturn. It now houses about 25 individual care units, including the Division of Dermatology, the Breast Center, Obstetrics/Gynecology, University Pediatrics, the Pediatric Allergy Clinic, the Adolescent Medicine Clinic and the Preoperative Evaluation Center. Each was strategically selected in order to build a family of clinics that provide synergy for patients, said Janice Smith, chief administrator of OHO.
“We have clinics that feed off one another,” Smith said. “The Medical Infusion Clinic wraps around the pharmacy, so the pharmacists can make the infusion, ring a bell, and the nurses can go pick it up. It really is a nice flow for the patients. Our goal is to be able to do as much as we can for the patient in one stop.”
Because of the close proximity of the clinics within the concourse, a visit to Obstetrics/Gynecology easily can be followed up with a trip to the Breast Center or Women’s Imaging for a mammogram or ultrasound. Rather than moving from building to building, patients can easily navigate their way down a straightaway of well-marked complementary suites.
“Our patients with children are thrilled with the ease of parking – unpacking the stroller once and getting right into the clinic and then right back out,” Smith said. “It especially makes a lot of difference when you are managing two or three children.”
Julie Sterling, a research instructor at the Vanderbilt Center for Bone Biology in the Department of Cancer Biology, has two young sons and makes use of University Pediatrics at OHO on a fairly regular basis.
“The new facility has large, bright rooms and a comfortable waiting area with a train that my kids have a great time watching and playing with while we wait to see the doctor,” she said. “Also, most of the diagnostic laboratories are just down the hall, and the pharmacy is on site, which has helped save us a lot of time.”
The individual pagers issued to patients, similar to those used at restaurants, are handy for those who want to get a cup of coffee at Einstein Bros. Bagels or stroll the concourse to view an art exhibit while waiting for an appointment. Though patients aren’t encouraged to actually shop in the nearby retail stores, they have more freedom than if they were in a traditional doctor’s office, Smith said.
“They don’t have to just sit there and feel like they are tied to a chair,” she said.
A pleasant side effect of the pager system is that the mall is very calm and quiet, Smith added.
“You don’t hear patients’ names being called out, which is more calming for our patients and staff,” Smith said. “Our hope is that you won’t have to wait an extensive period of time, but if you are waiting, we want to make it as comforting and as soothing as possible.”
Several times a week, trainers and therapy dogs, including Great Danes, golden retrievers and Labradors, provide comfort and joy to patients, particularly the young ones. But the dogs’ visits are not constrained to Pediatrics.
“Recently, one of our pet therapy volunteers was here with her dog and they sat down beside a woman in the waiting area who seemed to be having an extremely difficult day,” Smith said. “They sat there with her for a while, and the woman just wrapped her arms around the dog. She was so appreciative of their presence.”
Carolyn Byrd travels 85 miles every two weeks from Linden, Tenn., to receive treatment at Vanderbilt. She undergoes chemotherapy at the main hospital’s oncology department, and visits the Breast Center at OHO for mammograms and consultations with her surgeon, Ingrid Meszoely, who performed a partial mastectomy on Byrd earlier this year.
“It’s real nice here. It doesn’t feel like a clinic,” Byrd said. “The parking is great – it’s convenient and efficient. I’ve had a lot of good people to work with.”
Byrd is able to meet with Meszoely and then walk just a few steps to the Breast Center for a mammogram, while her husband Jerry waits in the spacious waiting area with
“It’s been tough – we’ve had some hard times,” Carolyn Byrd said. “But the people at Vanderbilt have always been so helpful and nice. That’s made things a lot easier.”
The OHO development is designed to provide convenience and service for its patients and guests. The same can be said for employees. Unlike most other campus facilities, parking at OHO is not only abundant, but provided at no charge.
But that’s only one of the many benefits available to those who work at OHO. Golf carts regularly patrol the parking lots to offer a lift to anyone who needs it, including employees who park at the far end of the building. The Vanderbilt Valet service, which launched a few years ago at the main campus, has been extended to include the OHO location. Employees are able to use the service for dry cleaning, car detailing and other errands. There also are shuttles that run to and from the main campus, providing easy transport as needed.
Regular activities such as blood drives, flu shots and TB testing are made available to OHO employees, just as they are on the main campus. There also is access to on-site Human Resources representatives to apply for jobs or receive guidance on benefits questions or employee relations. The Vanderbilt Credit Union has an ATM in place, and credit union representatives visit on paydays to answer questions. Even Employee Celebration Month has a presence at OHO.
“The goal of administrators for One Hundred Oaks was to replicate as much as possible the Vanderbilt experience for the OHO staff,” Smith said. “During September we brought the activities out here so that everyone had the chance to mix and mingle and do what they would have done on the 21st Avenue campus. We had our own hot dogs and drinks, and it was a fun time to just let everyone know how much we appreciate them.”
“The location is convenient and there is free parking, which is a definite plus,” said Anita Harris, who works in patient care at University Pediatrics. “I like the newness and the technology we have. And it’s beautiful and airy – it doesn’t feel like a clinic or hospital. We love it.”
Another plus is the security presence provided by the Vanderbilt Police Department. Police are on-hand 24-7, and paramedics are present during normal clinic hours to respond quickly to everything from minor tumbles to cardiac incidents.
“The retail establishments are pleased that VPD is on site,” Smith said. “We meet periodically with the retail managers and they have gone above and beyond to say how pleased they are with VPD. It’s been a wonderful comfort for our staff, patients and visitors, because if they have any kind of emergency, VPD and paramedics can be there in moments.”
Perhaps the biggest benefit to employees is having additional space to perform their work. Many of the clinics that have moved to OHO previously served in cramped quarters back on the main campus.
“People are so happy to have the space that they have here,” Smith said. “The staff and faculty were instrumental in designing these clinics. They were able to bring their own sense of what their space should be, and now that it has materialized, they are so appreciative.”
The surrounding communities are also appreciative. “Vanderbilt took a chance on this community and now other businesses are doing the same,” said Anna Page, council member for the 16th District. “It’s been a really positive influence.”
Berry Hill City Manager Joe Baker agrees. “Our restaurants and retail businesses have seen increased traffic,” he said. “We have had three new restaurants open north of Thompson Lane and have seen a significant increase in the number of retail businesses interested in locating nearby.”
Several nonprofits in the area have received more than $50,000 in grants from the Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks Community Grant Program. Recipients have included First Steps Community Outreach, which works to educate and care for children with special needs; Conexión Américas, which promotes social, economic and civic advancement of Latino families in Middle Tennessee; Second Harvest, which feeds the hungry; and the Shade Tree Family Clinic, a free health clinic run by Vanderbilt medical students.
A volunteer spirit is evident in the culture at OHO, where employees can take part in enriching the community in which they work.
“Whether it’s volunteering for Second Harvest Food Bank, painting schools or working on a Habitat for Humanity build, we’re working together to understand how we can take the essence of who we are out into the community and share it,” Smith said. “We will provide employees with ways they can work as a team to make a difference in the lives of the needy.”
What makes this spacious new outpost unique is that it provides the state-of-the-art medical care Vanderbilt is known for, while maintaining a homey, welcoming feel. That can be attributed directly to the friendly faces that greet patients at every turn, from the volunteers and receptionists to the caregivers themselves.
“I love having the opportunity to serve the patients, to greet them and make sure they know where they are going,” said Reginald Mahan of Guest Services. “It’s a great atmosphere here, and this job gives me the chance to help people.”
Additional photography by Steve Green