The Neely House was established in 1997 within Tufts Medical Center in Boston to provide a unique setting for cancer patients and their families meant to be a home away from home. The Neely House was created to fill an important need; to ease the burden of cancer patients traveling for treatment by providing a place to stay for them and their families while undergoing cancer treatments. By staying within the hospital while undergoing treatment, patients, referred to as “guests” at the Neely House, can remain close to care providers and interact with other patients and their families who are going through similar struggles.
After nearly twenty years of operation, it was time for a much needed update. Working with the not-for-profit Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care, the design team gave priority to improvements which would directly impact the experience for Neely House guests. Influenced by conversations with previous guests, we developed a program of flexible spaces centered around private, family and group activities. The design intent was to avoid any resemblance to a clinical environment. Although there is no minimum or maximum stay, the average stay is three weeks. It was important to us that a patient receiving cancer treatment several floors below can leave that environment, ascend in the elevator and arrive at a quieter, more restful place. If a patient could feel welcomed as a guest at an upscale hotel when the elevator doors open to the Neely House, we would be successful. With this in mind, our challenge was to create a hospitality setting within the confines of a hospital.
Because the Neely House is within an existing hospital, there were limitations to what could be relocated or removed. Most fire-rated construction and utilities could not be altered, but we did have flexibility within units and along portions of the corridor. Being within the hospital also meant we needed to maintain strict hospital standards when considering materials and furnishings. It was imperative that materials used have low VOC’s and could be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. New high-rated acoustical ceilings foster a quieter environment. Half of the suites are equipped with HEPA filters for patients with compromised immune systems. Guest suites range in size to accommodate different family needs and include a private bath, kitchen and dining accommodations.
By forming a true partnership with the client and through generous donations, the design team was able to enhance the services of the Neely House through a variety of new amenities. A quiet room is reserved for alone time or private conversation. A resource room provides computers and flexible seating. A media room, affectionately called the “Bruins Den”, reflects the Neely Foundation’s affiliation with the Boston Bruins and features the team's colors and memorabilia. The Bruins Den is acoustically separated from other spaces, and includes stepped reclining seating and a large screen for a mini movie theater experience. Other shared amenities include common laundry, kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms to encourage homelike activities for guests and their families to use during their stay. The new space provides patients and their families comfort and serenity as they battle such a terrible disease.