From left to right: James Kolb, principal, Gresham, Smith and Partners; Pam Maynard, principal and director of interior architecture, HMC Architects; Evan Weremeychik, associate principal, Perkins Eastman; and Derek Selke, director of architecture, BSA LifeStructures. Illustrations by Peter Arkle.
MyKaiser mobile app–controlled patient rooms, Kaiser Permanente
Today, hospitals want to make patients both more comfortable and more accountable for their own care. “There was a time when people showed up at hospitals and people took care of them. We’ve tried to change that culturally,” says architect James Kolb, a principal at Gresham, Smith and Partners. “We want them to have control over things.” In 2012, the firm was named a finalist in Kaiser Permanente’s “Small Hospital, Big Idea” competition for a 96-bed, 225,076-square-foot “hospital of the future.” Its submission included MyKaiser, a mobile app that acts as a room control interface and communication tool. With the app, patients can adjust room temperature, switch the television channel, and change the artwork display and color of the room’s LED lighting. An interactive wall allows patients to “hang” their own artwork or family photos, and to engage in Skype consultations with a physician. “When a patient is under all the stress of a medical calamity, a lot of the issues are related to not knowing,” Kolb says. “By engaging the patient in the hospital and making them an active partner, they’ll take more responsibility for their care.” Kaiser is developing the prototype app for use in its hospitals.
Digital Imaging wall coverings, Maharam
In spaces without windows, images of natural settings or fractal patterns can help lower patients’ anxiety and blood pressure. For several interior rooms at the Los Angeles Center for Women’s Health, HMC Architects used large-scale prints and wall installations by Maharam to add vibrancy. The waiting rooms and other public areas showcase images from the Maharam Digital Projects series. Available in sizes exceeding 10-by-16-feet, the latex-reinforced substrate polymer prints feature abstract patterns or natural scenes by renowned artists, illustrators, and photographers. “They’re durable, they’re easy to maintain, and they’re washable,” says HMC principal and interior architecture director Pam Maynard. Although the Maharam Digital Projects images come only in this material, the company also offers the same printing technology—using customer-supplied images—in a variety of plastic-free versions, including a canvas that meets Greenguard indoor air quality strictures or LEED for Healthcare guidelines. HMC chose plastic-free versions with an emphasis on natural imagery for a windowless stress-testing room and an infusion room.
Vitracolor Magnetic Markerglass, Skyline Design
Good healthcare design also fosters patient engagement and participation in the healing process. For the Winthrop-University Hospital Research and Academic Center in Mineola, N.Y., a teaching and treatment facility that is under construction, Perkins Eastman sought to make interaction among doctors, students, staff, patients, and visitors a potentially public event. In a series of amenity spaces—congregations of sofas, chairs, and tables—throughout the hospital’s public areas, the architects added a succession of Vitracolor Magnetic Markerglass walls by Skyline Design. The writing surfaces are equipped with marking pens, allowing the hospital’s researchers, instructors, medical students, doctors, and nurses to discuss cases with each other and with patients, privacy and confidentiality permitting. Some of the glass is also magnetized so paper items can be posted to the surface. “They can literally start doodling on the walls,” says Perkins Eastman associate principal Evan Weremeychik, AIA. “It’s deliberately done in a more public zone so people can join in.” The inspiration was Bell Labs, which “had a policy that no one could close their door. It led to unusual collaborations.”
Nylon door strike insert, Falcon Locks
A common challenge for overnight patients is getting adequate sleep—a necessity for convalescence. Even if a doctor or nurse doesn’t intend to wake someone, a clicking door latch can be the difference between a meaningful night of rest and a series of catnaps. That’s why Indianapolis-based firm BSA LifeStructures chose a simple nylon door strike insert for patient rooms at the St. Good Samaritan Regional Health Center in Mt. Vernon, Ill. When a nurse or doctor enters the room, often with his or her hands full, “they’ll use their hand or body to open the latch, which makes an extra loud popping sound,” says Derek Selke, BSA’s director of architecture. “This insert quiets that pop down.” Although BSA chose Standard Strike model 1279 by Falcon Locks, it’s a product that several manufacturers offer. “It’s just a small thing,” Selke says. “But when you talk about noise control in a healthcare setting, it’s a big issue.”