A vision of sleek design and modern comfort rarely has one thinking hospitals. In fact, hospitals probably rank just above gas station restrooms and parking garages on a list of attractive aesthetics. That is why I want to direct your attention to an insightful article by Lindsay Abrams in the Atlantic magazine: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/03/how-much-should-be-spent-beautifying-hospitals/273294/.
Abrams talks about the evidentiary evidence showing hospital beautification contributing to better outcomes in stress management, healing rates, and mental health. Surely, your thinking-how can we even think about additional funding for paintings, couches, and better lighting when we our whole healthcare system is hemorrhaging funds? The article addresses the tradeoffs but goes on to shine a light on some recent success stories, including Cedars Sinai Cancer Center in Los Angeles.
Many studies have shown how the mechanics of attraction and positive response can lead to improved attitudes, and in many cases, an improved financial picture. For example, the article talks about how on the surface, private rooms for every patient would prove a financial burden but in reality the practice leads to savings. Private rooms cuts back on the spread of germs, causes less stress for the patient in regards to visitation and privacy, and leads to quicker dismissal rates. Hospitals are experimenting with new sights, patterns, and color design to fit the personality of the location, all in the name of promoting healing and wellness.
Another factor that should be obvious to anyone who has ever had to shop at a walmart, concerns patient reactions to artificial light vs. natural light. Facilities are finally beginning to bring some sunshine in and keep the hideously industrial florescent lighting to a minimum. As someone who has never been enamored with much of this country’s architecture, I applaud this inspired movement to blend art, health, science, and design. Now if we could just move on to nursing homes we would really be getting somewhere. Until next time……