Changing the Atmosphere of Hospitals and Health Care Settings

Let’s be honest- no one particularly likes going into a hospital. With the exception of healthcare professionals that like going to work every day, not many people would choose to go into a hospital. There are many stigmas attached to them – they smell bad, they’re depressing, they are full of sick people (Ok, this one may be deserved). Recently however, many of the nation’s top hospitals have been successfully trying to change their image and their atmosphere.

Unfortunately, I have recently had to spend a good amount of time at University Hospital’s Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cancer Center has only been open for about a year and it is completely innovative. Not only is it a gorgeous building from the outside, but the inside is groundbreaking as well.
When you walk in the main doors, you are greeted on the right with a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. On the left, there is the Therapeutic Infusion Lounge where some patients receive treatments – it looks more like a hotel lobby than a hospital lounge. On the first floor there is also a Family Resource Center, where people can go to learn about various different types of cancer and about healthy living in general. There is also a healing garden, where patients can go to relax and on every floor there are family lounges. The center does not look like a hospital, it does not smell like a hospital and honestly, it really does not feel like one either. Below is a photo of part of the lobby in the Cancer Center.
Inside Seidman Cancer Center
The Seidman Cancer Center is not the only hospital in Northeast Ohio changing up it’s look. Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio recently opened Virtues, a five star, heart healthy restaurant. Not only do patients and visitors go to eat at Virtues, but it is actually frequented by members of the surrounding community.

Changing the atmosphere obviously benefits the business aspect of a hospital; people are more likely to go somewhere that is innovative and new. But what do these changes mean for the people that really matter: the hospital staff and patients? Does the setting and atmosphere really affect people? I believe it does. I believe that the environment of a hospital affects so many aspects of patient care.

First – it is no surprise that people are happier going to work in a place that is attractive and welcoming. The attitude health care workers have has a direct relationship with patient care quality. Think – wouldn’t you rather be treated by someone with a cheerful personality than by someone who clearly is unhappy?

Second- it is not very far fetched to claim that the atmosphere of a hospital has an effect on how the patients feel. It is well known that elements like color and lighting have a large effect on someone’s mood, and I believe that it is safe to say that a patient’s daily mood and outlook is going to somewhat affect their recovery rate. There is such a huge difference between receiving chemotherapy treatments somewhere like the Cancer Center’s Therapeutic Infusion Lounge than in a depressing hospital-like setting. If the patients feel more at home, they will feel better. Any hospital that is focused on patient centered care would have to take into account the environment that the patient receives care in.

Overall, changing the atmosphere of a hospital is a great thing. Along with state of the art care, I believe a unique healing environment is the key to success in a patient’s recovery.

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