Contract - Designing For Health: The Unexpected Oasis—A medically, spiritually, and emotionally caring environment

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Designing For Health: The Unexpected Oasis—A medically, spiritually, and emotionally caring environment

14 December, 2010

-By Carolyn BaRoss, ASID, IIDA, LEED AP, and Heayoung Cho


"Designing for Health" is a monthly, Web-exclusive series from healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments.

Can a garden provide respite to a patient, family member, or caregiver, who is facing the tremendous stress associated with illness and its treatment? Can it grant a moment of refreshment that reminds one, through full senses, the exuberance of life and vital form of the fresh and the living? While a special garden cannot perform medical wonders, it can offer temporary relief from emotional burden and bring back the most primal senses—not only the touches, but also the sights, sounds, smells, and sense of being in a natural location. Instead of something that may feel cold and hygienic—surface of technology with sounds of artificial/institutional noises, smells, and lighting that can distort true sense of time—a meaningful connection to nature and the abundance of life might be felt through this oasis of a garden.

Much has been published regarding the connection between stress and health. In Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009), Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., writes that “patients in the hospital are constantly exposed to stressors, that can weaken the immune system and possibly lead to impaired health or healing.” Access to nature and its relationship to health have also been investigated. Roger Ulrich’s well-known 1984 study, “View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery,” suggests faster, less painful recovery for surgical patients with a windowed view to a natural setting, rather than those with a view of a brick wall. In their essay “Nature and Healing: The Science, Theory and Promise of Biophilic Design” (Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, Guenther R., Vittori G., Wiley 2008), Stephen R. Kellert, Ph.D., and Judith H Heerwagen, Ph.D., site numerous studies linking access to nature with physiological responses—including the reduction of stress, improved performance, and healing.

These proven links notwithstanding, institutions are under expanding pressures to maximize efficiencies, improve safety and outcomes, and reduce costs, all in a difficult economic environment. It is through the lens of these challenges that an exemplary case at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston stands out. MGH’s commitment to bestowing a holistic design amenity to positively affect people and their spirit is manifested at the Ulfelder Healing Garden at the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, which serves 700,000 patient visits annually for a variety of programs, including a three-floor Cancer Center with modern, daylight-filled spaces.

In the planning stages, the design team and MGH recognized the potential in a roof setback for a future garden to be located near the chemotherapy unit, where patients with longest, recurring visits would have easy access. The resulting garden created by Halvorson Design Partnership, in association with Cambridge Seven Associates, provides a verdant oasis on the eighth floor overlooking a historic structure, the city and the Charles River.

Open to all patients, family, and staff, this garden is a joyful surprise that is accessed through a plant-filled, weatherproofed solarium with comfortable seating for year-round use. Outdoor garden seating is oriented to urban vistas from the protective surrounds of taller plantings. A water feature provides interest along the garden path that meanders through the plantings. Chilling winds are blocked by glass railings that allow clear views. Its effect is profound. Peaceful, tranquil, and lush, the garden could feel like one is in a park setting instead of eight levels above dense metropolitan surroundings.

Proof of the garden’s positive impact is in moving statements recorded in the garden’s guest book, 1,653 of which informed a study by Belden SE, Shipley WU, Shipley J, Binda KD, Penson RT: “Holistic Oncology: A Healing Garden Guest Book” (The Oncologist, 13:828, 2008), which states that 98 percent of the comments were “overwhelmingly positive” with half recording positive psychological effects, followed by positive physical, spiritual, and social themes.

According to Lisa Goggin, the garden’s manager, feedback is still “always positive.” She says, “Visitors always write in the guest book. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't write something. We also get comments from the [nationally administered patient satisfaction] Press Ganey surveys.” Goggin’s impression is that the garden is of “tremendous value and benefit. It is just a beautiful place to visit and patients find it so comforting. The comments they write really reflect that.” She adds “Definite challenges are space, the physical set-up, and money, but…in terms of achieving a peaceful, beautiful garden, it is well worth all of the challenges. I hope it remains part of the cancer center for many, many years to come. I visit the garden almost every day, and it continues to have such a calming effect. I'm lucky to be just one floor away.”

Carolyn BaRoss is a design principal at Perkins+Will and was managing principal for the interior fit-out of the MGH Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care.

Heayoung Cho is an interior designer at Perkins+Will and dedicates her time to creating beautiful, thoughtful, and humanistic environments.

MGH Cancer Center Design Team
Planning and design architect: Michael Fieldman. Urban design, design, executive architect: Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. Historic consulting architect: Anne Beha Architects. Interior planning and design: Perkins+Will in association with Interior Architect of Record: Steffian Bradley Associates.


Data and content for this article was developed from the following sources:
Belden, Sarah E., William U. Shipley, Jensie Shipley, Katie D. Binda, and Richard T. Penson. “Holistic Oncology: A Healing Garden Guest Book”
The official journal of the Society for Translational Oncology 13: 828 ; doi:10.1634. Jul 2008.

Glaser ,Ronald and Janice K.Kiecolt-Glaser “Stress-induced immune dysfunction:implications for health” NATURE REVIEWS/IMMUNOLOGY Vol 5. March 2005.

Guenther, Robin and Gail Vittori. Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

Sternberg M.D., Esther M. Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009.

Ulrich, Roger S "View through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery" Science: Vol. 224, No. 4647, 27 April 1984: pp. 420-421.

Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):
Integrating Research into the Design Process
Altruism in the Profession—The Implementation of Social Responsibility
How Green is Your Furniture
Workspaces for Well-being
The Cultural Differences of Latin American Countries and Their Desire for American Influence
Light and Its Role in Patient Safety
Research-Based Client Communication
An Urban Clinic—Connecting with the Community
Patient and Staff Safety in Behavioral Health Facilities
A Harmonious Companionship—Rejuvenating State-of-the-Art




Designing For Health: The Unexpected Oasis—A medically, spiritually, and emotionally caring environment

14 December, 2010


"Designing for Health" is a monthly, Web-exclusive series from healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environments.

Can a garden provide respite to a patient, family member, or caregiver, who is facing the tremendous stress associated with illness and its treatment? Can it grant a moment of refreshment that reminds one, through full senses, the exuberance of life and vital form of the fresh and the living? While a special garden cannot perform medical wonders, it can offer temporary relief from emotional burden and bring back the most primal senses—not only the touches, but also the sights, sounds, smells, and sense of being in a natural location. Instead of something that may feel cold and hygienic—surface of technology with sounds of artificial/institutional noises, smells, and lighting that can distort true sense of time—a meaningful connection to nature and the abundance of life might be felt through this oasis of a garden.

Much has been published regarding the connection between stress and health. In Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009), Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., writes that “patients in the hospital are constantly exposed to stressors, that can weaken the immune system and possibly lead to impaired health or healing.” Access to nature and its relationship to health have also been investigated. Roger Ulrich’s well-known 1984 study, “View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery,” suggests faster, less painful recovery for surgical patients with a windowed view to a natural setting, rather than those with a view of a brick wall. In their essay “Nature and Healing: The Science, Theory and Promise of Biophilic Design” (Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, Guenther R., Vittori G., Wiley 2008), Stephen R. Kellert, Ph.D., and Judith H Heerwagen, Ph.D., site numerous studies linking access to nature with physiological responses—including the reduction of stress, improved performance, and healing.

These proven links notwithstanding, institutions are under expanding pressures to maximize efficiencies, improve safety and outcomes, and reduce costs, all in a difficult economic environment. It is through the lens of these challenges that an exemplary case at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston stands out. MGH’s commitment to bestowing a holistic design amenity to positively affect people and their spirit is manifested at the Ulfelder Healing Garden at the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, which serves 700,000 patient visits annually for a variety of programs, including a three-floor Cancer Center with modern, daylight-filled spaces.

In the planning stages, the design team and MGH recognized the potential in a roof setback for a future garden to be located near the chemotherapy unit, where patients with longest, recurring visits would have easy access. The resulting garden created by Halvorson Design Partnership, in association with Cambridge Seven Associates, provides a verdant oasis on the eighth floor overlooking a historic structure, the city and the Charles River.

Open to all patients, family, and staff, this garden is a joyful surprise that is accessed through a plant-filled, weatherproofed solarium with comfortable seating for year-round use. Outdoor garden seating is oriented to urban vistas from the protective surrounds of taller plantings. A water feature provides interest along the garden path that meanders through the plantings. Chilling winds are blocked by glass railings that allow clear views. Its effect is profound. Peaceful, tranquil, and lush, the garden could feel like one is in a park setting instead of eight levels above dense metropolitan surroundings.

Proof of the garden’s positive impact is in moving statements recorded in the garden’s guest book, 1,653 of which informed a study by Belden SE, Shipley WU, Shipley J, Binda KD, Penson RT: “Holistic Oncology: A Healing Garden Guest Book” (The Oncologist, 13:828, 2008), which states that 98 percent of the comments were “overwhelmingly positive” with half recording positive psychological effects, followed by positive physical, spiritual, and social themes.

According to Lisa Goggin, the garden’s manager, feedback is still “always positive.” She says, “Visitors always write in the guest book. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't write something. We also get comments from the [nationally administered patient satisfaction] Press Ganey surveys.” Goggin’s impression is that the garden is of “tremendous value and benefit. It is just a beautiful place to visit and patients find it so comforting. The comments they write really reflect that.” She adds “Definite challenges are space, the physical set-up, and money, but…in terms of achieving a peaceful, beautiful garden, it is well worth all of the challenges. I hope it remains part of the cancer center for many, many years to come. I visit the garden almost every day, and it continues to have such a calming effect. I'm lucky to be just one floor away.”

Carolyn BaRoss is a design principal at Perkins+Will and was managing principal for the interior fit-out of the MGH Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care.

Heayoung Cho is an interior designer at Perkins+Will and dedicates her time to creating beautiful, thoughtful, and humanistic environments.

MGH Cancer Center Design Team
Planning and design architect: Michael Fieldman. Urban design, design, executive architect: Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. Historic consulting architect: Anne Beha Architects. Interior planning and design: Perkins+Will in association with Interior Architect of Record: Steffian Bradley Associates.


Data and content for this article was developed from the following sources:
Belden, Sarah E., William U. Shipley, Jensie Shipley, Katie D. Binda, and Richard T. Penson. “Holistic Oncology: A Healing Garden Guest Book”
The official journal of the Society for Translational Oncology 13: 828 ; doi:10.1634. Jul 2008.

Glaser ,Ronald and Janice K.Kiecolt-Glaser “Stress-induced immune dysfunction:implications for health” NATURE REVIEWS/IMMUNOLOGY Vol 5. March 2005.

Guenther, Robin and Gail Vittori. Sustainable Healthcare Architecture, Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

Sternberg M.D., Esther M. Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009.

Ulrich, Roger S "View through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery" Science: Vol. 224, No. 4647, 27 April 1984: pp. 420-421.

Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):
Integrating Research into the Design Process
Altruism in the Profession—The Implementation of Social Responsibility
How Green is Your Furniture
Workspaces for Well-being
The Cultural Differences of Latin American Countries and Their Desire for American Influence
Light and Its Role in Patient Safety
Research-Based Client Communication
An Urban Clinic—Connecting with the Community
Patient and Staff Safety in Behavioral Health Facilities
A Harmonious Companionship—Rejuvenating State-of-the-Art

 


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