ProMedica modified its wayfinding logic and signage system for its newest facility to better serve patients and control flow during the pandemic.

Image courtesy of Corbin Design

In preparing to open a brand-new facility last year, ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital, Adrian, Mich., had unique wayfinding challenges to address based on a new approach to patient flow and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

ProMedica Health System is comprised of 13 hospitals, four ambulatory surgery centers and more than 400 post-acute care facilities located throughout 27 counties in Ohio and Michigan. Since 2013, ProMedica has been using a wayfinding logic and sign standard developed by its partner Corbin Design, Traverse City, Mich., that has been implemented throughout the health system. 

The team at Corbin Design worked with the health care system to merge information with visual design to help patients and staff navigate complex environments more comfortably and successfully. ProMedica worked with the design team to evaluate existing language and develop a comprehensive wayfinding logic that could subsequently be tied into all forms of communication. This helps to ensure a consistent, seamless journey for patients and visitors in any of its health care facilities. 

The sign system developed for ProMedica is a custom layered acrylic insert-based system that allows for flexibility as room functions change. All facilities using the system have the same look and feel, with the signature ProMedica green accent making the signs easily identifiable in the environment. 

In addition to the standard design, a comprehensive wayfinding logic and language also was developed back in 2013. For example, each ProMedica hospital location relies on alpha characters for their entrances, elevators and parking (if warranted) that ties to a corresponding color. Entrance A at all hospital locations features signage in green with the letter enclosed in a white circle. Creating this standard makes it simple and intuitive for patients to navigate at all ProMedica locations. It also makes pre-visit communication clear with an easy-to-follow script that transitions visitors to recognize and rely on signs upon arrival. 

The system created in 2013 has served ProMedica well. However, with ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital opening in the middle of the pandemic, the team at Corbin Design had to make changes that would provide consistent branding while also addressing the specific needs associated with patient flow during the pandemic. 

Replacing the former ProMedica Bixby Hospital and ProMedica Herrick Hospital, this new location serves as both a hospital and clinic.  

After being immediately greeted upon arrival through Entrance A and checking in for their appointments or registering for their diagnostic tests, patients would be directed to one of three waiting areas in the spacious main lobby. 

Ensuring these waiting areas were well identified and separated while maintaining the openness of the space was a unique challenge to this location. A new identification system was needed, as alpha characters were already widely used in the logic for entrances and elevators. Other options that were evaluated included the use of numbers or service-specific names. 

Using numbers as the identification for the waiting areas provided the best solution that was identifiable across demographics, as well as providing flexibility to adjust as scheduling requirements and traffic flow changes. 

A new freestanding waiting identifier sign type with a large number for each waiting area was designed, closely resembling freestanding directories and guide signs from the sign standards. While not part of the program used at other locations, this sign type is an example of how a wayfinding system standard can be adapted to meet the needs of an individual facility while maintaining the system logic. 

From their flagship hospital to smaller clinics, patients at ProMedica can expect to encounter an intuitive wayfinding program that is consistent with their high standard of care and exceptional patient experience. The wayfinding unifies and organizes each facility to improve caregiving experiences.