Newsroom Ask the expert: Rod Schaffer on branding our facilities Posted by Devin Hawkins on Aug. 4, 2022 When Rod Schaffer, vice president of facilities management, first visited Cox South 17 years ago, he had no idea his expertise would help shape the next two decades of construction at CoxHealth.At the time, CoxHealth was working on a master plan for the Cox South campus, considering where to build a new Emergency Department, and possibly a surgery center.Schaffer remembers his first visit, where he noted a mix of architecture, design styles and even varying signage on the buildings.He told the CoxHealth leaders that a unified visual brand is vital to communicating confidence and professionalism to patients and visitors. It’s an area many people may not think about, but you can feel it throughout our campuses.“It communicates that you are going to meet a client’s expectations,” he says. “People see how you take care of your facilities and that sets the impression for how we will take care of them.”Schaffer made his case well and the leadership team hired him as CoxHealth’s vice president of facilities.Since then, he has worked to set the standard for CoxHealth’s campuses and buildings, and ensure that our physical presence reflects the high-quality of care we provide.We sat down with Rod for some insight into the importance of our facility brand, and what it takes to keep an organization like CoxHealth growing.Why is it important for a health system to pay close attention to the physical environment?Cultivating a unified look is a matter of trust. It is important to identify a brand through architecture, so people know who you are as an organization. The consistency helps patients and visitors know what to expect from CoxHealth.First impressions have a significant influence on the overall patient experience. Creating the right environment can be calming and reduce stress, especially in a health care setting. As soon as you walk in, the facility has to be inviting. When people feel welcomed in, that changes an attitude very quickly.There are studies showing that even arriving to a health care facility can be very stressful. Both the exterior and interior environments deliver a message about the quality and services of an organization. It’s a first impression that will influence expectations before any care is given.CoxHealth is committed to creating a positive first impression for our patients, no matter where they receive their care. By improving their arrival experience, we are able to begin to relieve stress that could hinder care. The use of regional aesthetics, natural materials and recognizable features creates cohesiveness that is unmistakably CoxHealth’s brand, and achieves the first impression we want.We wanted to create a clean, modern design that communicates: “They are going to take care of me.”A good environment on our campuses inspires pride. When people love the facility or the campus, they will even pick up litter when they see it. That pride is contagious.How have we worked to brand the look of the Cox South campus?We wanted to blend the architecture together as much as we could to make the buildings look like part of the same campus. We worked on standardized signage and naming for facilities, using the logo and the star on our buildings.We developed guiding principles and design guidelines that define the look and feel of CoxHealth. Those include using natural sandstone and color palates from our region, as well as glass and metal treatments that help standardize our look.With the Emergency Department, we used brick that matched the main tower, while also introducing brick from the Walnut Lawn facility and the Martin Center. We wanted to blend those elements in to make it more cohesive.At the Cox Surgery Center, we introduced the curvilinear roof line, splashes of stone and anodized silver accents.With their similar styles, the Surgery Center and the ED became bookends for the campus, creating the more unified visual brand that has become our standard for all of our facilities.How does design extend CoxHealth’s visual brand across the region?A great example is the new hospital at Cox Monett. Even if that building had no name on it, the average person driving by would see it as CoxHealth because it looks like our other hospitals and clinics.We are working to do the same with our new clinics. The Marshfield clinic was the first one we designed with the curved glass, the brick, and the canopy out front.We have now perfected the design model so that all of our new clinics have the same feel, both inside and out.What was it like to develop the new National and Sunshine clinic?We wanted a clinic in the center of the community and this was the perfect opportunity. Every site is unique, but we have learned over time to adapt to those challenges.This location required a zone change, storm drainage, and landscaping. It also required parking to accommodate a 32,000-square-foot facility, which would normally would need five acres of land to construct. We were able to accomplish all of this on a two-acre site by adding a basement and a second story.The logistics of building on a busy intersection were also challenging. We put a lot of effort into designing the entrances and traffic flow in the parking lot. We want to make it easy for patients to get in and out, and to create an experience that makes it worth their while to come back.What is it like to see your fingerprints on the look of CoxHealth facilities around the region?I take a lot of pride in what I do and it is always gratifying to accomplish those endeavors. But, I hardly feel like an expert. This isn’t just Rod making this happen. It is a tremendous amount of talented people and resources making all of this become reality.This is a team effort. We have a lot of folks in the community supporting us and partners helping us build these buildings. From suppliers to contractors and designers and more. They all believe in us and our mission. Without these core relationships we couldn’t do this.When I first walked on this campus, I thought, “there is an opportunity here, and I think we can make a difference.” I believe we have done a good job making a difference for the organization and for our community by creating something all can be proud of that is sustainable and lasting.