Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beautiful hospitals

Hospital construction continues apace across the United States. Newer hospitals increasingly concentrate on design and in incorporating features to make hospitals more like hotels or homes, all in an admirable effort to provide comfortable, attractive, and healing environments.

Having toured several new hospitals and facilities, either just opened or in the final stages of construction, this blogger has to admit that they are beautiful and nothing like the “older” facilities out there. Antiseptic, institutional colors have been replaced by warm hues, seating which was once plastic or some other industrial fabric now looks to be replaced by high-end furniture that would not look out of place in one’s living room, fluorescent tube lighting has been replaced by chandeliers and hanging incandescent lamps, etc., etc. Multi-story atriums full of glass, hanging mobiles, plants, and artwork proliferate…

No doubt the architects and designers follow all the applicable rules and guidelines and use newer and better materials than in the past, but this blogger has to wonder how much time they spend considering the cleaning and upkeep needs of their designs. After all, once opened, it is the facilities’ environmental services staff that will have to keep the facility clean thereafter. Nice architectural touches such as hanging lights, artwork, “false” ceilings, plants, walls that are not plain but have patterns and crevices carved into them, etc. all are potential repositories for dirt and dust, that will need regular cleaning. Accessing the atriums’ hanging items to clean them will require the services of a “cherry picker”, keeping the vast expanses of glass clean requires a lot of work, carpeted floors are harder to keep up (e.g. if someone vomits), etc., etc... Add it all up and it seems that the environmental services burden ends up significantly higher and perhaps design should take this more into account

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