Throughout the past century, critics generally weren’t kind to hospital interiors. Many labeled hospital layouts and amenities as “utilitarian,” or “functional.” That’s hardly high design praise—unless, perhaps, you build farm implements.
But as health care’s building and renovation boom has unfolded, patient rooms, accommodations for family members and common areas are rapidly being transformed for the better.
New-generation hospital interiors and materials almost without exception are more aesthetically appealing, easier to clean, safer for patients and staff, and more durable. Evidence-based design approaches are improving infection control efforts, reducing patient falls, shortening staff, walking distances, lowering stress and, ultimately, improving outcomes.
That’s what research teams from Texas A&M University and Georgia Tech concluded after reviewing more than 600 scientific articles in top peer-reviewed journals. Their groundbreaking 2004 report to the Center for Health Design and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital of the 21st Century: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity,” should be required reading for all with a stake in hospital design.
Putting this acquired knowledge into action, architects, designers and hospital facilities teams are working to create environments that many now compare favorably to hotels and well-appointed homes.
This supplement provides insights from experts in hospital design on the types of materials, furnishings, lighting systems, flooring, furniture and amenities that are facilitating these positive changes. The images used in these articles visually illustrate just how dramatically health care interiors are improving.
Health Facilities Management will continue to focus on these important topics in future issues and we gratefully acknowledge the support of the advertisers who made this section possible.
Health Facilities Management
Common areas with a touch of Class
Once upon a time, there was a generic place in the hospital called the lobby, says Donald McKahan, AIA, FACHA, founder of the Del Mar, Calif.-based health facility planning firm McKahan Planning Group. That time is past. Today’s hospital lobbies are anything but generic—they are unique, stylish areas that serve many purposes beyond simply providing patients, visitors and families with a comfortable place to wait.
Creating the patient-centered room
Of all the recent changes in hospital interior design, perhaps the most dramatic have taken place in the patient room. Patient rooms have been transformed from cold, strictly utilitarian spaces into clean, safe, therapeutic environments with the comforts of home and the aesthetics and amenities of a fine hotel.
Putting families first
Today, patients’ families are an acknowledged, essential part of the care team. “The length of stay is getting shorter and shorter, and the more involved the family can be while their loved one is in the hospital, observing what’s going on, it’s just that much easier when they go home,” says Debbie Breunig, a registered nurse and vice president–health care market for Green Bay, Wis.-based furniture and wall systems manufacturer KI.
A note of acknowledgement
The editors would like to thank the many sources and health care design firms who participated in this supplement. The following design and public relations firms provided images used in the project:
- Albert Kahn Associates Inc., Detroit
- Carter Design Associates, Houston
- Earl Swensson Associates (ESa), Nashville, Tenn.
- McKahan Planning Group, Del Mar, Calif.
- VGS Public & Media Relations, Carrollton, Texas
This article first appeared in the June 2007 issue of HFM magazine.
To respond to this article, please click here.
Click here for a FREE subscription to Health Facilities Management.