Cathy Massey, R.N., BSN, MSN, EDAC, was voted 2020 president of the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design (NIHD). She is also the director of health facilities space and equipment planning for Fraser Health Facilities Management in Surrey, British Columbia. This month, she talks to HFM about what’s next for NIHD as the organization celebrates the International Year of the Nurse.


The Massey File


  • Director, health facilities space equipment planning, Fraser Health Authority, Surrey, British Columbia.
  • Project planning leader, pediatric emergency, Surrey (British Columbia) Memorial Hospital.


  • Co-presenter at Healthcare Design Conference.
  • Evidence-based Design Accreditation and Certification.
  • Session presenter at Canadian Healthcare Engineering Conference.
  • Core Indigenous Cultural Competency Mental Health Certification.


  • Master of Science in Nursing from University of British Columbia.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of British Columbia.

How did you move from nursing to health care facility planning? 

When I was the manager of both a pediatric and a neonatal inpatient unit as well as the pediatric outpatient programs in a large regional hospital, I was involved in two major renovations on my unit. It was my involvement in those projects that sparked my interest in the built environment. The first project was a renovation of an oncology outpatient clinic that was adjacent to my inpatient unit, and the second was repurposing a few inpatient rooms into a neonatal intensive care unit. I was able to understand the value of the clinical voices in project planning and the need to be clear about operational intent and functionality so that the decisions around the built environment could support the work. 

I ran the staff through mock-ups as the project progressed and tried to make sure that all disciplines had input. From there, I had the opportunity to participate in the planning of a critical care tower for that same hospital and was the clinical lead for pediatric emergency. Again, the value of the clinical voice could not be understated. Just prior to the transition stage of that project, an opportunity to work with facilities planning became available, and I was able to take the learnings from having been on the operational side of a project to the facilities side. I have been with facilities for almost eight years now and direct teams that do the functional programming and equipment planning for capital renovations and new builds. 

What are some of the unique skills and perspectives nurses bring to design? 

Nurses have an important role to play in projects and design, as they are able to share with the programmers and architects the intent and functionality of spaces. They are able to describe clinical operations and critically consider more effective ways of working in the future (e.g., best practices, elimination of waste and safer environments). In this way, changes to the built environment can be made to support a new way of working. Nurses are patient centered in a holistic way that recognizes the patient as part of a bigger system (e.g., family and community) that also needs to be considered.

How did you become involved in NIHD?

In 2014, I was attending the Healthcare Design Expo + Conference (HCD) in San Diego and writing my evidence-based design accreditation and certification examination. My boss at the time gave me a member contact at NIHD and suggested I seek out this group at their reception while I was there. I did, and
the rest is history! 

They were such an interesting and accomplished group, and I was immediately hooked. I have learned so much from the members that I have been able to use in my work. I was elected board member for education in 2016, and my role was to help with monthly webinar organization and the planning for the clinical perspectives track for HCD. 

I have been fortunate to have been able to attend the conference and help organize and participate in the NIHD hosted preconference workshops that sell out each year. This year, I am the president of NIHD, and I feel honored to represent such an inspiring group of people who are making differences in patients’ lives by getting involved in the planning of health care spaces across many projects. On behalf of NIHD, I will also be speaking on an expert panel at the second annual International Nursing Conference for Excellence in Healthcare Design hosted by Clemson School of Nursing in Greenville, S.C., in July. 

Why is 2020 significant for NIHD?

This year we are celebrating the International Year of the Nurse as the bicentenary of the birth of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. It is also the 10th anniversary of NIHD’s incorporation. Florence Nightingale was one of the first people to understand the direct influence the built environment has on patient care. We will definitely be celebrating both our beginnings as a profession and as an organization.

In addition, with clinician burnout at an all-time high, we are very excited to support research that is being conducted to address and bring awareness to this important topic. NIHD and the NIHD Foundation were proud to award this year’s Lady with the Lamp Research Grant to Adeleh Nejati, AIA, Ph.D., LEED AP, WELL AP, EDAC; NIHD member Kathy Okland, RN, MPH, EDAC; and Linda Knodel, MHA, MSN, NE-BC, CPHQ, FACHE, FAAN, for their study titled “Research-based Innovations for Designing Staff Restorative Environments in Healthcare Facilities.”

What is the organization’s current strategy for expansion? 

NIHD is looking to build connections through our membership and participation in conferences such as HCD, the International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design and Construction, and the International Nursing Conference for Excellence in Healthcare Design, as well as connecting members together for informal knowledge sharing as opportunities arise. 

We have the opportunity for members to connect online with one another and build relationships by seeking knowledge or advice about projects and best practices. NIHD offers its members monthly webinars as well as a community forum for connection and sharing.

Our academic partnership with Clemson School of Nursing remains strong, and several NIHD members participated on the steering committee for both the inaugural and the second International Nursing Conference for Excellence in Healthcare Design. We encourage those in the field to attend this conference to learn best practices for nurse leadership in health care design, engage in interprofessional collaboration and engagement, and learn more how to support the role of nurse leaders in design.

How is NIHD helping to push the field toward improvement? 

NIHD has focused our preconference workshops over the past few years on the clinician’s role throughout the phases of a building project. We have highlighted the value of the clinical voice in clinical service planning, functional programming, design and postoccupancy evaluation. Together, we have shared with clinicians the need to invest time and energy in transition and activation planning and even shared some tools that members find useful on projects with their teams. As the membership of NIHD grows and the networking among members broadens, we are able to help shape the planning environment on projects, which in turn shapes the built environment.

What is NIHD doing to strengthen its member community? 

NIHD is working to improve its online presence and website. Monthly webinars are well attended, there is a job board, monthly newsletter and a community forum to ask project-related questions of members about what is working well and what is not, built environment trends and best practices. 

We are encouraging members to take a more active role in our conference planning and member activities. We also offer scholarships and awards to deserving members. We are trying to link members together for knowledge transfer and sharing within communities to further influence the projects they are working on —­ both large and small.