Certificant Profile – Joel P. Trexler

Joel P. Trexler, AIA, ACHA
JPT Architects, P.C.
Johnstown, PA

How has ACHA certification enhanced your career in healthcare architecture and/or design?
As a new member of the ACHA, this certification has opened new networking opportunities among other career enhancements in the Healthcare Design field. This certification has also given me a chance to differentiate myself among my peers.

Back before the pandemic hit, when Healthcare Design conferences were still going on, it was a pleasure to be able to meet with other ACHA members and attend exclusive sessions/meals as a group. Additionally, I personally know many professionals that are active members and have been involved in the ACHA for many years. These individuals have always encouraged me to become certified due to the experience and involvement that I have specifically in the design of hospitals and other medical facilities.

As the Principal and Owner of JPT Architects, it’s been beneficial for my business to be able to show our clients that JPT’s leader has an ACHA certification to back up the healthcare design knowledge that we are claiming to have.

What would you say to anyone interested in the field?
Healthcare design projects are challenging, thought provoking and self-fulfilling. They have always presented themselves to me as human scaled puzzles, whose pieces need to first be appropriately recognized and then artfully fit together. No two projects are alike so fresh ideas are always needed. Advances in technology are a constant and responding to them architecturally is part of the fun.

What led you to becoming ACHA certified?
The main reason that I became ACHA certified is for my business to show clients that I can back up the knowledge that I have in Healthcare Design and to encourage others at JPT Architects to get their ACHA certification. For the JPT Team Members who are not eligible to sit for an exam and become certified yet, I will encourage them to join the Candidate Program with ACHA.

As far as the people who have encouraged me to join the College, I would say that two of my close professional friends, John Rogers, FAIA, FACHA and Jim Harrell, FAIA, FACHA, EDAC, ACHE, were the ones who got me interested. John is the Immediate Past President of the ACHA now and it was interesting that in the same year that John became the President, I received my ACHA certification. I have had it on my “to-do” list for the last several years but this year, I made it a goal to create my portfolio for submission and pass the exam in order to get my certification. Both Jim and John are ACHA Fellows as well.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you personally or your practice?
Luckily, the actual work that we are doing on the day-to-day can be done remotely if needed. Although most of the JPT team members have returned to the office, all have the choice of working from home if they want. We also have protocols in place that adapt as the pandemic does and they are distributed to everyone on the JPT team.

We are really trying to understand the pain that our clients are in. Healthcare facility teams are being affected so differently depending on the location that the facility is in. Some of our clients are in rural communities which have not been affected in such an extreme manner compared to urban community healthcare facilities. For example, one of our clients, located in an urban area, held a pre-bid meeting and walkthrough at the end of April. This was my first in-person view of the devastation this pandemic can cause in hospitals across the globe. The atmosphere was very somber and sobering. They showed me four (4) tractor trailer sized morgue coolers parked along the loading dock with human bodies stacked six (6) high. The hospital’s team explained that, at first, they were not confident they would be able to fill up one (1) trailer with bodies and now there are an addition three (3) filled trailers. An in-house electrician from the facility maintenance department lost his life from contracting COVID-19. At the time of that pre-bid meeting and walkthrough, there were 210 COVID patients in that particular hospital. They said that they had a peak day of over 500 COVID patients at their hospital. The emotional stress was visible, and I was not prepared to hear the stories that they shared.  These urban hospitals are on the front lines of this viral fight. They “jokingly” asked how their situation compares to that of the situation in central Pennsylvania which is where all JPT’s home offices are located. The situation that is being faced in rural central Pennsylvania does not compare to that of this urban hospital as central PA has not seen and hopefully will not ever see this level of tragedy. This was an emotional experience beyond design guidelines, CFM requirements and the nuts and bolts of facility design. How do you design for this? They requested we pass the message along to take this virus seriously and they actually said, “life moves forward”!

About You

Education: Bachelor of Architecture, Temple University

I have over 28 years of experience in all aspects of healthcare facility design including site development, new inpatient and outpatient facilities, additions and renovations.

Not only do I have an acute understanding of healthcare facility design, but I also have extensive knowledge of healthcare facility project requirements, standards, regulations, schedule and budget, as well as phasing, ICRA requirements and current trends in healthcare buildings and systems.

Fulfilling the role of Principal at JPT is that of a Designer, Manager and Client Contact. I maintain direct involvement in every phase of a project, from programming and design, through construction and owner occupancy.

AccomplishmentsI have been a Healthcare Architect for over 28 years. I was hooked on this building type as a young intern working at a large firm within their relatively small healthcare division. I was fascinated by the complexity of finding design solutions with empathy for patients, clinical efficiency, technology, safety guidelines and realistic budgeting. This passion has continued to increase over time, providing me with unmistakable self-satisfaction and professional pride.

My contribution to making better places to treat illness and heal bodies has always been apparent to me and my clients. Sometimes, as in a reduction of child anesthesia needed due to distractions we designed for a pediatric MRI, it can also be physically calculated. But every project I take on, regardless of size or scope, is met with the commitment to achieve the very best in healthcare design.
My contribution to teaching younger design professionals in our office will serve to proliferate excellence in healthcare design.