Experience Lives In The Details
a post by ILS contributor Sarah Collins

On a recent tour of the VA Medical Center in Lake Nona, FL, it was apparent right from setting foot inside the 1.2M SF facility that something special had been built to serve our nation’s veterans. So often, medical facilities and services available to veterans are not exactly up-to-par, but the VA Medical Campus located about 30 minutes outside of Orlando provides veterans with the gold standard of care.

The beautiful building and wide-variety of offerings are definitely impressive, but when walking through the halls I kept finding myself intrigued by little touches that made me think, “What an incredible idea!” Although these “little things” may not seem like much on their own, they work together to elevate the VA Medical Center to a shining example of patient experience from the design level up.


Whether you are a patient, a team member, or a guest, learning is encouraged within the hospital. A library is available for veterans at any time – patient or not – and offers services such as resume writing and computer stations. An employee library is also available, and mobile libraries can be found on every floor of the facility.

Patient-Centric Design

Every square foot of the hospital seems to be designed for the veteran patient in mind. Soundproof windows protect PTSD sufferers, interactive maps offer clear wayfinding, colorful floors enhance mood, and every patient room is private. The design itself, similar to a horseshoe, allows natural sunlight to filter through hallways and waiting areas. Even the lighting has been designed to fit the needs of the patient. Last but not least, everything you might need from snacks to gifts can be purchased in the best hospital store I’ve ever seen!


The patient rooms at the VA Medical center are the closest thing to a hotel room you are likely to find in a hospital. State-of-the-art beds and lifts, large screen TVs, and clearly marked patient information boards are standard in all rooms. To avoid unnecessary disruption to patients, a computer station is placed between every pair of rooms, with small windows to check on patients without physically entering the room. These windows also have blinds to offer complete privacy when needed.

Pre-Filled Medicine Cabinets

Having spent many weeks as a patient myself, the individual medicine cabinets outside of every room might be my favorite of the hospital’s innovations! To avoid delays in the administration of medicine, such as waiting for prescriptions to be approved, filled, and brought to the patient, the day’s doses are separated and placed in an attractive, locked wooden cabinet outside of every patient room. Using their security card to access the contents, nurses are able to distribute medication to patients exactly when they are due. Simple, yet brilliant.

Rest and Renewal

For team members and family members alike, rest is available on almost every floor. Private “hoptels” function as small-scale hotel rooms, allowing family members to rest on campus without leaving for a hotel. Groups of “hoptels” share kitchen space, making the experience for family members less stressful and costly. There’s no need to leave, even for a coffee break, as the “Patriot’s Coffee Shop” offers beverages that a team member told us “is as good as Starbucks!”


A LEED Certified Green building, the hospital boasts a beautiful water feature which collects rainwater. This water is then purified to be used within the hospital. From the building materials to the continued focus on sustainability, the medical center clearly wants to funnel as much funding as possible directly back to the patient.


Most importantly, everything you could need is on campus. Assisted living, a chapel, transportation, and even personalized assistance with VA home loans complement the offerings at the hospital. The focus at this facility is truly on continuity of care. Around every corner, I was pleasantly surprised to see something unique and soothing – paintings, flowers, and views – that made me proud of this facility for the outstanding care and sense of community it offers to those who deserve it the most.