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Hospitals are investing in artwork to aid in patient healing.

Photo courtesy of UC San Diego Health

Artwork in health care facilities has been linked to many positive patient outcomes. A report from the Center for Health Design references several studies showing how artwork in health care facilities has been linked to better pain control, and reduced anxiety, fatigue and distress in patients.

While patient healing is certainly the chief end in medical facilities, the Center for Health Design says art can serve several other purposes as well. It can help to deinstitutionalize the hospital so it feels less intimidating or provide wayfinding using prominent pieces as landmarks.

Another secondary benefit is improved branding, which can elevate the patient’s perception of care and give visitors something with which to identify.

In his article "Designing for brand awareness," Mark Patterson, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C says, “Art and furniture are not simply decorative features; when carefully curated, these elements can significantly reinforce a brand by creating an environment in keeping with the brand image. An art program, for example, can utilize the work of local artists to strengthen the health care organization’s connection with the community.” 

A recent example of this is the Healing Arts Collection at Jacobs Medical Center, part of the University of California San Diego Health. The 245-bed hospital recently opened, and its artwork has been one of the facility's defining attributes. More than 150 original pieces are placed everywhere around the hospital, from corridors to patient rooms. 

University Medical Center New Orleans uses art to tell the city’s history. Artist Ray King created a colorful cascade using stainless steel tubes and cables, as well as laminated colored and coated dichroic glass elements.

At Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital Vanderbilt at Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tenn., a central atrium with faux antique street lamps, mock wrought iron, a mural of a hot air balloon race and hoop lighting plays off the town’s quintessential Southern charm.

The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City invokes a sense of whimsy in patients before they even walk through the front doors. A 150-foot-long island leading to the entrance features 12 colorful stainless steel kites and two bronze sculptures of playful children running with the kites. Sculptor Matthew Placzek says it was his "hope that each child visiting the hospital can relate to the exuberance and joy of the sculpture, bringing a little bit of comfort to their stay."


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