I had the opportunity to take my mother to her HMO to get some blood work done. Almost all of the patients I saw there were elderly, disabled, extremely overweight, or a combination of all three. That may be a topic for a future post, but probably not (You’re welcome!). What I found interesting was the cluelessness of the design of the facilities. To someone accessing the campus via public transportation the buildings are set back at least a hundred yards, and there are NO sidewalks along the access road. For patients arriving by private automobile even the closest handicapped parking spaces are not only distant from the various entrances, but require that anyone using a wheelchair or who has difficulty with stairs travel IN the roadway. To top it off, there are two separate buildings and no pedestrian connection between the two.
People sometimes think that auto-oriented design is more friendly to the elderly or the disabled. That may be true if one only takes into account the ease with which one can access the grounds of whatever institution, but the distances one is required to traverse having arrived and the auto-centric nature of the general design sometimes balance out the advantages and if, being elderly or disabled, one doesn’t have the wherewithal to own a car AND the ability to drive it, then one is both more dependent upon others and the topography of an auto-centric space is less manageable than a traditional street.
Below is a soon-to-open health care center in my neighborhood. It is located on a number of bus routes and in much closer proximity to a number of stops than the one bus stop serving “the campus” of the HMO with the more suburban design. The handicapped spaces are closer to the entrance and do not require patients in wheelchairs to “share the road” with cars. Though at least three buildings are joined in this facility, they are contiguous and have a footprint (below)1/10th the size of the sprawling HMO.