By: Marni T. Murdock, Principal Architect, ACHA, LEED®-AP
A sunlit room with a pleasant view, noise control, private gardens, HEPA air filtration and ergonomically designed furniture all sound like amenities at a resort or health spa. But, these are features that healthcare facilities are incorporating into design to create a more healing environment.
Architects are seeing an increase in healthcare projects across the nation, and Hawai‘i is no exception. As health facilities begin the process of building or renovating, healthcare leaders are starting to look at evidence-based design (EBD) as an opportunity to be streamlined, efficient and enhance the quality of care. EBD is a field of study that bases design decisions on documented research and best practices to improve outcomes. It is getting a lot of attention in healthcare architecture because design can improve the patient healing process, enhance staff well-being, reduce stress, and increase safety.
Architects Hawaii Ltd. has a team of specialized professionals dedicated to the growing and changing healthcare industry. Many of the projects we are involved with are looking at ways that the environment can promote and aid healing. Findings show that natural daylight makes people feel better and is linked with shorter hospital stays, lower stress, less pain, and lower intake of pain medication. The Women’s Center at Pali Momi Medical Center wanted to incorporate this finding into their design even though it was located on the lower level. We found a way to get natural light by using solar tubes and opening the part of the waiting room ceiling to the upper lobby above with a light well. AHL’s design at Straub oncology included a healing garden for patients receiving infusion treatment. This allows them to look out at it or go out to enjoy a moment of respite. Research shows gardens located in healthcare settings offer patients, visitors, and staff the opportunity for direct interaction with the restorative, calming effects of nature.
“We are lucky to have a great team leading the way in healthcare design,” said Bettina Mehnert, Architect, AHL’s Vice President and COO. “Marni has board certification from the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) and is one of only two architects in Hawai‘i with this designation. We also added another healthcare design specialist, Janel Ring, AIA, LEED®-AP, who brings expertise in medical planning to AHL.”