Healing Environments Healthy hospital movement

Creating Healing Environments

Last week I published a post about Renown Health’s commitment to taking action outside of the hospital’s walls to address community health. I visited Renown a couple of weeks ago and was thoroughly impressed by so many aspects of their operation. Today I’m sharing some thoughts about what Renown Health is doing within its walls to create a healing and healthy environment for patients, family members, visitors and employees.

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Photo Caption: Display of artwork at Renown Health

When I speak at conferences, there are always a few audience members who are surprised to hear me say that many hospitals were not designed with the patient and his or her family in mind. For decades we built institutions that were not patient- and family-friendly and certainly weren’t hospitable. The facilities were cold and stark. They were loud. Lighting was horrible. These were not what I call healing environments. They were places for medical and therapeutic interventions – and for monitoring patients during recovery.

Today we understand that the environment has a lot to do with the patient’s recovery and well-being. It can also impact employees and their job performance. So, thank goodness, we are building amazing new healthcare facilities that truly offer patients, family members and hospital employees a healing and healthy environment. Many new hospitals have circadian lighting to simulate a natural environment. It is common to find artwork on the walls of the facility, and occasionally in patient rooms. I love this trend! Patient rooms now make accommodations for family members spending the night. Many hospitals have even eliminated formal visiting hours and offer valet parking – two patient-centric developments.

Throughout the industry there has also been an effort to make hospitals healthier environments by eliminating smoking and by emphasizing healthy food options in cafeterias and other hospital-based restaurants. Many healthcare organizations now have weekly farmer’s markets for their employees and visitors – emphasizing the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating. And finally, the Green Health movement has led to many hospitals to start using non-toxic building and cleaning products to reduce the negative health impact on patients, visitors and employees.

Within the hospital’s walls: As my colleague and I toured Renown last week we were astounded by the healing environment they have created. And trust me, not every hospital qualifies as having a healing environment. So what has Renown done to distinguish itself? First, Renown has more original art displayed throughout the medical center than I have ever seen within a healthcare organization – paintings, photography and sculpture. There are also amazing healing gardens for adults and children. The adult garden has a labyrinth – an amazing tool for meditation and reflection.

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Photo Caption: Glass Sculpture at Renown Health
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Photo Caption: Children’s Healing Garden at Renown Health

One of the other patient- and family-friendly features that impressed me as we toured Renown is the abundance of retail within the medical center. Renown Regional Medical Center is home to a variety of shops offering everything from mom and baby gifts to trendy clothing, from fresh-cut flowers to balloons, from sit-down dining to grab-and-go treats. The Shops at Renown Health include a CVS Pharmacy, the Artisan Market Bistro, Starbucks, an upscale Boutique, a floral shop, FreshBerry Frozen Yogurt, Subway, a logo shop for Renown apparel, a traditional gift shot (Sierra Gifts), and a cafe featuring healthy options and cuisine from around the world (Chinese, Mexican, European, Mediterranean, etc). When visiting the shops and restaurants you get a sense of the familiar – a feeling a normalcy. That has to be a calming experience for patients, family members and visitors.

Finally, Renown has full service hotel on the Renown Regional Medical Center campus. The Inn at Renown offers non-smoking rooms perfect for patients and their families, medical center visitors and guests attending on-campus seminars. Three of the rooms include kitchenettes for guests who plan an extended stay.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-8-27-27-amThese are just a few of the features I noted while on our tour of Renown Regional Medical Center. The abundance of original art, because it is so visually striking, left the greatest impression upon me. This was particularly true in the Renown Institute for Cancer. When the patient enters the Institute, he or she immediately faces a vibrant wall sculpture. Around every corner is the visitor finds a new piece of art. My guess is that the environment is not at all what first time visitors expect of a cancer center. However, it is what I have come to expect of modern, patient-friendly facilities!

If you’re interested in the creation of healing environments within hospitals, here are some posts I’ve written on the subject in the past:

Vermont Hospitals Embrace Art to Create Healing Environments

Reducing Hospital Noise to Create Healing Environments

Hospitals Offering Concierge Services for Patients

Green Initiatives on the Rise in Healthcare

Bringing the Arts into your Hospital

 

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