White Paper, "Healing Environments in Health Care"
Designing Environmentsfor Healing and Wellness
IntroductionThe healthcare system touches everyone, andDesigners, architects, and psychologists realizethere has to be an environmental shift in thesetting to help the healing process for the patientand families. The need for well-designed hospitalsis increasing as awareness grows about the way inwhich the environment impacts our healingprocess Today, designers are attempting to evolvehospitals from their typical sterile décor into placesof wellness. Studies have proven that naturallight can reduce depression, and that scenesof nature can reduce reported pain levels.Evidence based design also proves that buildingenvironment has a huge impact on the delivery ofhealthcare.
Elements of Design-Sense of place-Private rooms-Nature-Artwork-Sound Image: Michelle MeiklejohnIt is crucial that hospital environments create themost healing atmosphere possible for the patient
In 1903, Dr. August Rollier opened a sunlight clinic in theSwiss Alps. This clinic was one of the first inspirationsfor modernist designers in the 1920’s and 1930’s whodesigned hospitals in order to achieve the highestlevel of sunlight inside. These ways of thinking aboutthe need for light and nature were verified with facts in1984 when a study by Roger Ulrich was published in Sci-ence Magazine. In this study, Ulrich used forty-six pa-tients, all undergoing the same gall bladder surgery be-tween 1971-1981. Twenty- three of the patients had bedswith views of nature; the other twenty-three patients hadviews of brick walls. Ulrich controlled all variables such asage, sex, smokers vs. non, etc. Each “pair” of patients(one person with a nature view, one person with a brickwall view) was cared for by the same nurse and receivedthe same treatment. The study over the course ofthose 10 years proved that the patients with the viewof nature left the hospital a whole day sooner thenthose with the brick wall view. Also, the patients withthe view of nature required less doses of painmedication then the patients without the view.Nature
In addition to views of nature, another aspect of new hos-pital design includes the need for private rooms. Theusual hospital room involves two patients, separated byonly a single curtain. This gives the patient no sense ofprivacy, and increases the risk of germs. In a study ofBronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan,private rooms were given to patients. These roomsfeatured well-located sinks and improved airflowdesign. Hospital-acquired infections declined 11 %.Private rooms also help decrease noise level. The PebbleProject was a study conducted by The Center for HealthDesign in California. This study took place at St. Alphon-sus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. Thestatistics proved that reducing noise levels improvedsleep quality of patients by almost one half.Private RoomsandSound
With facts and studies aforementioned, designers areseeing the need for change. Current projects in hospitaldesign are underway, and many successful designs havealready been completed.SmithGroup is working on Banner Page Hospital inPage, Arizona. Banner Page is one of the largest non-profit healthcare systems in the United States. Thishospital will feature light-filled rooms with exterior glasswalls, patient privacy through furniture design ( such asbed orientation), as well as extra space in the rooms toaccommodate family members. images from Healthcare Design MagazineBanner PageHospital
RTKL Associates is another design firm making incred-ible strides in hospital design. RTKL has worked onluxury resorts and hotels, and now is incorporatingsimilar design principles into hospitals. One of theirprojects is The Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.The main lobby is built to resemble a solar system. Thehospital also features an outdoor healing garden and artstudio. In Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Penn-sylvania, the MRI room is set up with nature murals on theceilings and walls, helping to ease the stress and anxietyof the patients. Children’s Medical Center, Dallas Lancaster General Hospital MRI roomRTKL
Priestmangoode, based in London, wrote a“Health Manifesto” in February 2010. This manifesto ex-plains, how “hospitals need to be as cost-efficient to build, run and maintain as possible,while maximizing standards of quality andcomfort”. Priestmangoode believes that by using thesame principles found in airports, first-class air cabins,and hotel rooms, better, more efficient patientenvironments could be achieved.“ By choosing the right materials, colours andlighting, they can be designed to be moreappealing environments that can ultimatelyhelp a patient’s recovery. And the beauty is,they don’t need to cost more.”- Priestmangoode (on hospitals)“Health Manifesto” Priestmangoode
Images & Concepts from the “Health Manifesto”Inspiration for low-cost, efficient models: Priestmangoode Hotel Room for ETAP-“Cheap dosen’t mean poor quality” Sink designed for ETAP Hotel, made from central column that features electics, water, internet/phone cabling, with mirror and desk built in. Inspiration for “Smarter, more multifunctional Use of Space” Inspiration for privacy: design of first class Swiss airline. “Privacy in every space, for every patient”
Gunether 5 Architects, based in New York, focus on de-signing hospitals using sustainable and local materials.In addition to the added bonus of sustainability, their de-signs are meant to feel more like holistic spas ratherthen hospitals. Their work includes the maternity floor atMount Sinai in New York, and The Beatrice RenfieldCenter for Nursing at Beth Israel. Beth Israel features aquiet, blue, “meditation” room, where patients and familymembers can sit and relax during the stress of treatment.The interior lobby of the hospital features all sustainablematerials, including New York State walnut, copper coilcurtains, and an artist commissioned bench. Guenther 5also worked on the Maimonides Cancer Center in Brook-lyn. The center was the recipient of a VISTA Team Awardby The American Society of Healthcare Engineering. Thespace integrates medicine practice with “compassion-ate and healing design, as well as environmen-tally responsible architecture and interiors”Their Discovery Health Center in Harris, NY, was thesecond LEED-certified healthcare facility in the US.Gunether 5
Discovery Health Center- Harris, New York all Gunether 5 Images from www.g5arch.com
Renfield Center at Beth Israel, NYCMaimonides Cancer Center, Brooklyn
“Recovery Lounge” Priestmangoode “Recovery Lounge” Inspirations With those prior examples of innovative hospitals, designers must keep looking to the future and keep finding new ways to create the optimal hospital environment.
At Beth Israel, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Founda-tion developed a program that was meant to create ahealing environment and ease the patient experience.This program features far more then new interiordesign elements, in that it also focuses on bringing inelements of massage, reiki, yoga, and nutritiontherapies to the cancer patients. Donna Karan de-signed a meditative and relaxing space aimed atmaking the patients feel as comfortable aspossible.This was achieved by incorporating ameditation room for the staff, patients, and family mem-bers to use. Patients, as well as staff, reported de-creased stress levels in this healing environment. Urban Zen Center, photo from urbanzen.org
ConclusionThese new hospital designs are meant to be more thenaesthetically pleasing. They are meant to bring a sense ofhealing and wellness to the patients. Healing spaces and calming interiors aid inthe treatment process, and allow the patient in manycases to even recover at a faster rate. Hospital spacesneed to be a design priority. Healthcare should come firstin our lives, and in the lives of those we care for- thisshould begin with good design. Rachel Happ Memorial Sloan- Kettering Spring 2011 Internship
ResourcesCampbell, Carol Ann. “Health Outcomes Driving New HospitalDesign.” The New York Times, 19 May 2009.Gunether 5 Architectswww.g5arch.comPatterson, Mark. “Toward a New Vocabulary for HealthcareDesign.” Healthcare Design Magazine, February 2009.Priestmangoode. “The Health Manifesto”. February 2010.RTKL Architectswww.rtkl.comSternberg, Esther M. Healing Spaces. Harvard University Press.2009.Urban Zen Foundationwww.urbanzen.og*cover page photo: Urban Zen Collection.