A Dose of De­sign

Lo­cal med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties em­brace a mod­ern meld­ing of style and sub­stance.

RSWLiving - - Features - An ed­i­tor for TOTI Me­dia, Beth Lu­berecki is a Venice, Florida– based free­lance writer. Learn more about her at beth­lu­berecki.com.

At Cape Coral Hos­pi­tal, you’ll en­counter ex­pected el­e­ments like gur­neys, wheel­chairs, and plenty of state- of- the- art med­i­cal equip­ment. But you’ll also find things like birds in flight in a stair­well, kites and hot- air bal­loons painted on ceil­ing tiles, and col­or­ful quilts hang­ing on the walls of the ma­ter­nity ward.

Some sec­tions of the hos­pi­tal boast newer floor­ing and fresh coats of paint in soothing shades of green, yel­low, and pur­ple. “We are con­stantly evolv­ing and chang­ing,” says Scott Kash­man, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer of Cape Coral Hos­pi­tal, which is part of the Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem. “Peo­ple al­ready ex­pect that we’re go­ing to pro­vide great clin­i­cal care. But they want to see that we’re con­tin­u­ing to evolve our cam­pus. I think the en­vi­ron­ment plays a big part in whether peo­ple feel good about their hos­pi­tal stay. If you’re not go­ing to keep an up­dated- look­ing fa­cil­ity and take pride in your­self, are you show­ing pride in the care you pro­vide?”

“A lot of what we’re try­ing to cre­ate are those spa­ces where peo­ple can catch their breath and take a break. If you come to a health- care or­ga­ni­za­tion and it seems hec­tic and stress­ful, that can have an im­pact on the pa­tient.” — Scott Kash­man, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer of Cape Coral Hos­pi­tal

That kind of power of per­cep­tion fac­tors into the way doc­tors’ of­fices and other med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties are de­signed th­ese days. Gone are the to­tally ster­ile, harshly lit en­vi­ron­ments de­void of any dec­o­ra­tion or sense of style. In their place are spa­ces that seek to calm, soothe, heal, and pro­vide a sense of the mis­sion of the doc­tors and other staff who work in them. While qual­ity med­i­cal care and cut­tingedge equip­ment are still what draw pa­tients in, looks do mat­ter.

“The com­pe­ti­tion among doc­tors is out there,” says Fort My­ers– based in­te­rior de­signer Lora Potts, who’s cur­rently work­ing on de­signs for med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in Fort My­ers and Tampa. “They’ve got to cre­ate an at­mos­phere that pa­tients want to go to. The pa­tient has a choice be­tween go­ing to an of­fice that hasn’t been touched in fif­teen or twenty years and a state- of- the- art of­fice that is clean, con­tem­po­rary, and new.”

A visit to the for­mer might lead to a lot of ques­tions. “The pa­tient might say to him­self, ‘ I won­der if this of­fice is re­ally clean, be­cause it hasn’t been up­dated in a while,’” says Potts. “That could lead to, ‘ I won­der if the med­i­cal equip­ment the doc­tor is us­ing is go­ing to be re­ally old. If they don’t care about the of­fice and how that looks, do they care about in­vest­ing in state- of- theart med­i­cal equip­ment?’”

First im­pres­sions mat­ter, es­pe­cially when your well- be­ing is in another per­son’s hands. That’s why many med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties are bor­row­ing el­e­ments from both the spa and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­tries, uti­liz­ing things like nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and tex­tures, con­tem­po­rary fur­nish­ings and wood tones, and tran­quil color pal­ettes fea­tur­ing hues like soft blues and greens. “That kind of de­sign works well in health en­vi­ron­ments,” says Lori Weg­man, prin­ci­pal of Naples- based Weg­man De­sign Group, which has done work for a num­ber of lo­cal med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties. “It helps to coun­ter­bal­ance all of the tech­nol­ogy.”

Take the new Center for Healthy Liv­ing at Moor­ings Park in Naples, which Weg­man De­sign Group worked on. Though the se­nior- fo­cused center will em­brace the lat­est in tech­nol­ogy— exam rooms will all be pa­per­less, for ex­am­ple— it will also in­clude touches like cloth­ing valets in each exam room, where pa­tients can hang their clothes ( in­stead of throw­ing them on a chair) and don a robe ( in­stead of an un­com­fort­able gown).

“Their per­sonal be­long­ings will be tucked away and taken care of,” says Weg­man. “It’s the kind of thing they might do at a very up­scale spa.”

A soothing set­ting can ben­e­fit both the pa­tients and those tak­ing care of them. “It pro­motes vis­ual and phys­i­cal com­fort,” says Potts. “Pa­tients have less anx­i­ety and less stress. And the em­ploy­ees are less stressed if it’s a calm­ing and well- de­signed en­vi­ron­ment. If the em­ploy­ees are stressed out and noth­ing is or­ga­nized, it speaks pretty loudly to the pa­tient.”

Cape Coral Hos­pi­tal con­stantly looks for ways the fa­cil­ity can care for its care­givers. “Just as im­por­tant as pro­vid­ing that en­vi­ron­ment for our pa­tients is pro­vid­ing that en­vi­ron­ment for the peo­ple who are pro­vid­ing the care,” says Kash­man. “A lot of what we’re try­ing to cre­ate are those spa­ces where peo­ple can catch their breath and take a break.”

That might be a win­dow- lined hall­way near the surgery center or a planned heal­ing gar­den out­side the women’s health area. “If you come to a health- care or­ga­ni­za­tion and it seems hec­tic and stress-

ful, that can have an im­pact on the pa­tient,” says Kash­man.

The stair­well near the hos­pi­tal’s pub­lic el­e­va­tors was re­cently trans­formed by lo­cal artist Shelly Cas­tle and her daugh­ter, Kayleigh. Na­tive Florida birds in flight now cover the sky- blue walls of the stair­case, which also fea­tures aqua- hued rail­ings.

“We wanted to bring the out­side all the way up and pro­mote well­ness by en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to use the stairs,” says San­dra Raak, co­or­di­na­tor of in­te­rior de­sign for Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem. So a hos­pi­tal em­ployee or pa­tient fam­ily mem­ber who doesn’t have time to pop out­side can get the calm­ing sen­sa­tion of do­ing so while also en­gag­ing in an ac­tiv­ity that’s good for their own well- be­ing. Sim­i­lar stair­well projects are in the early stages at other fa­cil­i­ties in the Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem.

Other aes­thetic ef­forts speak more squarely to pa­tient com­fort and well- be­ing. Pa­tients in Cape Coral Hos­pi­tal’s in­ten­sive- care unit can look above their beds and find col­or­ful ceil­ing tiles painted by Florida Gulf Coast Univer­sity stu­dent Melissa Sower. Kites, palm trees, and hot- air bal­loons might show up in the im­ages, along with in­fin­ity signs rep­re­sent­ing the in­fi­nite po­ten­tial of both pa­tients and their care­givers.

Hand­made quilts hang on the walls of the hos­pi­tal’s Center for Women and Chil­dren. A gift of the Cape Coral Quilters’ Guild, they add a lively touch to the unit and pro­vide com­fort to those who

“The com­pe­ti­tion among doc­tors is out there. They’ve got to cre­ate an at­mos­phere that pa­tients want to go to.” — Fort My­ers– based in­te­rior de­signer Lora Potts

see them. Some­times lit­er­ally, like when they’re given away to pa­tients in need of some ex­tra TLC.

Adding homey el­e­ments can help pa­tients feel re­laxed, whether that’s softer, more nat­u­ral light­ing or fur­nish­ings that would fit just as well in a liv­ing room as a wait­ing room. “You’re most com­fort­able in your own res­i­dence,” says Potts. “When you go to a med­i­cal fa­cil­ity and it’s bare and stark and white, that cre­ates a lot of anx­i­ety.”

Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem uses an up­hol­stery ma­te­rial called Cryp­ton, which is avail­able in col­ors, pat­terns, and tex­tures sim­i­lar to what you would find in a home but can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. “It looks like fab­ric but is re­ally very durable,” says Raak. “It acts like a vinyl in that mois­ture can­not get through.”

Of­ten the way a doc­tor’s of­fice or med­i­cal fa­cil­ity is de­signed can speak vol­umes about the pa­tients it serves and the work be­ing done there. Con­sider the Robert and Mar­i­ann MacDon­ald Sea-CARE-ium in- pa­tient pe­di­atric unit at the NCH Health­care Sys­tem’s North Naples Hos­pi­tal cam­pus.

Weg­man De­sign Group cre­ated an en­vi­ron­ment that would ap­peal to chil­dren of all ages, whether they’re two or twelve years old. Hall­ways look as if you’re strolling un­der the sea, and each of the pa­tient rooms is themed around a par­tic­u­lar sea crea­ture.

“It takes away from that in­sti­tu­tional feel­ing,” says Pat Read, ad­min­is­tra­tive di­rec­tor of the NCH Health­care Sys­tem. “Be­ing away from home can be a rather trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence for chil­dren. We wanted some­thing bright, cheery, fun, and dis­tract­ing. And it re­flects our en­vi­ron­ment here in Naples, with the sea be­ing so ever- present.”

A sim­i­lar ap­proach can be found at the Chrissy Brown In­pa­tient Hema­tol­ogy/ On­col­ogy Unit at Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem’s Golisano Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of South­west Florida, which is cur­rently lo­cated in­side the Health­Park Med­i­cal Center. There, young pa­tients find a nurses’ sta­tion that looks like a sandcastle and floor­ing that evokes flow­ing wa­ter. “Things come to life, and the kids can re­late to this area,” says Raak.

Weg­man mixed posh and play­ful in the de­sign for Lakes Park Chil­dren’s Den­tistry & Orthodon­tics, the prac­tice of Dr. Oliver Favalli in Fort My­ers. “Our con­cept was spa meets kids’ den­tist,” she says. “It’s re­ally light and airy but ap­pro­pri­ate for kids. It’s got brighter col­ors, but it’s not fre­netic.”

A calm­ing vibe per­vades the Birth Place at NCH Health­care Sys­tem’s North Naples Hos­pi­tal cam­pus, which fea­tures soft blue and green hues, na­ture- in­spired art­work, and stream­lined fur­nish­ings that would look right at home in a ho­tel. “When some­one is go­ing through the process of child­birth, there are a lot of emo­tions around all of that,” says Read. “We didn’t want the en­vi­ron­ment to con­flict with that. We just wanted to make it very soothing and re­lax­ing.”

But that same kind of am­bi­ence wouldn’t work for Col­lier Sports Medicine and Or­thopaedic Center, the prac­tice of Dr. James J. Guerra in Naples. In­stead of zen- like art­work, Weg­man De­sign Group hung signed ath­letic jer­seys on the walls to help give the of­fice a sporty feel. “It gives Dr. Guerra real cred­i­bil­ity and lends an air of au­thor­ity and con­fi­dence to the physi­cian,” says Weg­man. “Pa­tients will think, ‘ If he’s qual­i­fied to han­dle pro­fes­sional ath­letes, then he’s qual­i­fied to work on my knee.’”

A de­sign that ties into a med­i­cal fa­cil­ity’s mis­sion and spe­cialty can help ev­ery­one feel good about be­ing there, whether it’s a pa­tient, nurse, or the doc­tors them­selves. “If you cre­ate a space that re­lates to the pur­pose of the med­i­cal fa­cil­ity, it helps the staff re­late to the place where they work and cre­ates a sense of be­long­ing,” says Weg­man. “Ev­ery physi­cian has a dif­fer­ent story to tell, and they can re­ally use that to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Artist Shelly Cas­tle and her daugh­ter, Kayleigh, trans­formed a stair­well at Cape Coral Hos­pi­tal into a space that helps bring the out­doors in.

A calm­ing, un­der- the- sea vibe per­vades the Robert and Mar­i­ann MacDon­ald SeaCAREium in- pa­tient pe­di­atric unit at the NCH Health­care Sys­tem’s North Naples Hos­pi­tal cam­pus.

Signed jer­seys and other sporty touches set the scene at the Col­lier Sports Medicine and Or­thopaedic Center.

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