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When There’s a Lack of Office Space, Medical Institutions Are Forced to Get Creative

When Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s services outgrew its main hospital campus in the aughts, they relocated more than 20 clinics to One Hundred Oaks Mall, a 900,000 square foot defunct shopping center in downtown Nashville. The center makes up 25 percent of the university’s total medical business and receives 2.2 million visits a year. In an era where the vacancy rates of medical office facilities are at an all-time low, providers like Vanderbilt have no other option but to get resourceful.

Patient services at the medical center are designed to be as accessible and streamlined as possible. Appointment check-ins are done through kiosks where patients can also view medical records and schedule upcoming visits. In 2009, they moved several other departments to the center, including a dermatology, OB/GYN, physical therapy, and an imaging unit, among others.

Vanderbilt’s decision to move healthcare services to the shopping center was also a part of a larger effort to reduce costs and expand patient access. The center also saves money by maintaining lab and diagnostic equipment on the same site instead of sending patients to the university’s main campus for those services.

Other hospitals are following suit. For example, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston recently purchased 290,000 square feet of mixed space at the former Atrium Mall. The facility will be for newly diagnosed adult cancer patients to receive infusions and exams, while benefitting from ample parking and convenient public transit. 

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