Lutheran Medical Center, Senior Emergency Department

Wheat Ridge, Colorado
H+L Architecture
Denver, Colorado

Curtis Hendershott, AIA
Opened March 2014

Key Words
Operational efficiency
Patient/staff satisfaction
Space issues
Special population needs: senior care
Safety – senior care


To meet the increased demand for specialized, senior-focused emergency care in Jefferson County, H+L Architecture assisted Lutheran Medical Center beginning in 2012 with the expansion and remodel of its senior ER in conjunction with a complete renovation of its main emergency department (new layout indicated on floor plan below). Project goals, as identified in owner and user group meetings, included creating an environment to provide excellent emergency care to seniors, reducing the chaos and stress associated with an emergency visit, and optimizing the discharge of patients to an appropriate and safe environment.


Completed in 2014, the Lutheran Medical Center Senior Emergency Department was the first of its kind in Colorado and the region. The overall department is 13,500 sf and has a patient volume of 80,000 visits annually. The new senior ED opened with 14 specially designed private patient rooms and a 40 percent increase in space. Designers took special care to provide a less chaotic and stressful experience for older patients by featuring amenities, finishes, and technologies specifically tailored to meet their needs, including thicker mattresses, nonskid flooring, soft lighting, and assistive devices for those with difficulties walking, hearing, or seeing (refer to images 1 and 2).

The new space has created a more comfortable and calmer environment for the senior emergency population by isolating patients from the higher stress environment of the main ED. Though separate, the unit is contiguous with the main ED allowing for flexibility of use.

Lessons Learned

  • The needs of specific populations need to be addressed differently.
  • Allow for a higher number of toilet rooms within the senior ED.
  • Flexibility of space is a priority.

Editorial Commentary

Features for seniors are becoming more important for EDs as the demographics of America evolve. This case study exemplifies the thought that needs to be brought to ED design projects serving a high percentage of senior patients.

Lutheran Image #1

Image 1


Lutheran Image #2

Image 2


Lutheran Floor Plan

 Floor Plan



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