Displaying items by tag: design

Tuesday, 02 February 2021 19:11

A Tumultuous Time


I am glad that 2020 is behind us and we can look forward to Covid resolution in 2021.  As I examine the toll the virus has taken on hospitals, I realize that many fiscal as well as physical changes are necessary moving forward.  I believe that future hospital design will feature a dynamic tension between infection prevention and flexibility.  Hospital bed counts for overnight stays will be the sole purpose of the main hospital building for the foreseeable future.  We will protect our vulnerable populations by further isolating care for seniors, heart patients, diabetics, emergency patients and children.  We have already seen this movement towards free-standing specialty clinics and this concept will continue to grow.  We call it the "hub and spoke" model.  The hub being the main hospital with the spokes formed with individual specialty services.

As planners and designers, we will become proficient in the needs for each population and assist owners in rebranding these facilities.  We will select materials not only based on durability, but also review the finish or fabric's ability to stop the growth of microbes.  Careful considersation as to the properties of materials will require research and a proven track record for success.  Healthcare organizations will depend on our knowledge and foresight to recommend the best possible design selections for the budget.  These organizations are in a critical balance between addressing the need for separating patient populations, making the most of outpatient options, and in the end, making money to offset the costs of the pandemic.  Historically, outpatient business has been a lucrative venture for healthcare owners.  This will be even more important in the coming years.

Our expertise in planning and our experience in mitigating the transfer of infection through our designs will be paramount to our clients. We have never seen such importance placed on our knowledge as we perceive it now..  Take the baton and be sensitive to revamping the delivery of healthcare.  Architects, designers and engineers need to understand that we are shaping the future of healthcare with careful consideration to patient groups. It is a tumultuous time in healthcare, but perhaps a positive leap forward in the evolution of healthcare design.

Published in Healthcare
Wednesday, 04 March 2020 22:01

Color in 2030

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For the first time in the history of the United States, "Boomers" will out number children by the year 2030. Those under the age of 18 will be the lesser demographic to those over 65. Should we adjust our hospital color palettes to suite this group of adults?

Accommodating the changing feature customer in healthcare environments will be tricky. I am potentially suggesting that we switch to color that the aging eyes will perceive. There are so many factors to consider; the presence of cataracts, the yellowing of color perception with dementia, and the blurred close vision of presbyopia, to name a few.

Let's see, there could be evidence to design with pops of color to signal changes in wall surfaces. There are also schools of thought to create a black, white, and grey world to make certain we appeal to all people with all conditions. Then there's the contradictory use of red in a healthcare setting. Let's use it, because this color will visually appear more muted to this crowd! More recently, there is the use of the blue color spectrum, now coupled with LED lighting. Does skin tone actually change under these lighting conditions? Perhaps we have pushed the envelope of possibilities far enough

Let's remember that no two people are alike. I may not see the same hue that you see, but I can appreciate it. I am totally sure that my color perception will never be completely gone! A space devoid of color will bore me to tears. Let's not jump the gun to delete color in the foreseeable future. Let's agree to evolve color into the best application as designers have always done and thereby appeal to all generations.

After all, the most successful spaces and those with color make terrific black and white photos.

Published in Design
Friday, 01 March 2019 18:32

An Aha Moment in Design

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Recently, I attended an ACHE event to mingle with the healthcare community in the low country of Charleston. I met wonderful people doing great things to better healthcare experiences for patients. There was one conversation that was a particularly clarifying moment for me.

I met an administrator at the VA Medical Center. We talked about what Veterans need. I mentioned that in my observation, their wait times are tremendous and they can be at a facility all day. She stopped me in my tracks. She told me that they are not necessarily there all day because of their appointment; they are there because they want to be there! Veterans feel a sisterhood and brotherhood with those that served in the crucible of combat. It is like going home to family. If you listen in on discussions within the waiting areas, you will hear comparisons of experiences and war stories. Where else are these individuals able to connect so well to such a captivating audience? Now this is a "healing environment" if I ever heard of one!

She went on to explain that the coffee shop was once in the middle of the hospital with little visibility. It was moved to the front lobby in response to the need for a place to accommodate the comaraderie between their patients. The shop gives a spot for a "sit down" and a sharing platform over a cup of joe.

I have a renewed respect for our VA Hospitals. They know what their patients need and they are providing it. I sincerely appreciate the "aha moment" and the sharing of information. I strongly suspect that this clarifying instance will transfer into other areas for me as I design. Thank you for this realization.

Published in Design
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Tuesday, 04 December 2018 21:30

Sociopetal versus Sociofugal Waiting Area Layouts

Sociopetal waiting layouts were once thought to be the best. Like petals radiating from the center of a flower, designers were striving for "conversation groups" and a combination of lounge seating and chairs with a lesser footprint. The results looked similar to our living rooms at home. We implemented furnishings plans in medical office buildings with sociopetal layouts and we even planned them inside the hospital; in radiology waiting and outpatient areas.

waiting room

​Sociofugal waiting areas, on the other hand, line chairs up in rows with ganging mechanisms. The problem is that people don't like to sit next to strangers. They will leave a seat between themselves and their neighbor and will gravitate their position between a chair closest to the door to their exam room or near an outlet to re-charge their devices. While this layout seems to create the largest seating count, it also creates the most wasted amount of seats because of the habit of leaving vacant seats between patients and families.

conversational waiting area

As designers, we need to advise our clients of the pros and cons of each option and make a recommendation that is best for the stakeholders. It could be a combination of sociopetal and sociofugal arrangements in an acute care setting. It could be a total sociopetal configuration in a residential healthcare scenario, as in the lobby of an assisted living community. Another possibility is table placement between a sociopetal circle of chairs as shown above. The right answer lies in the use of available space.

Published in Waiting room
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