Dissection of a Hospital

Every one goes to hospitals every once in a while. We take our kids, we go ourselves, we visit someone, it’s very much part of our lives. The space planning and layout of the hospital is a very important. Well space planning of all facilities is important but importantly so for hospitals.

While planning a hospital, designers and architects must remember that people using this space are in distress, it’s  sick persons, their parents and relatives, and hospital staff, they are all dealing with special situations involving pain, distress, panic, worry and so on. The environment created  must address these states of minds from the space planning, to furniture, to all amenities. It MUST be peaceful and restful environment.

The journey that patients and their relatives go through; It all begins after the registration. Having registered and being assigned a doctor, the patient has to find the appropriate department in the hospital. With hospitals being built to accommodate a large numbers of patients, they are becoming more like towns! So finding the department building, the floor, the doctors room is a major task made worst by a rather confusing signage.

Hospitals layout are sometimes not designed appropriately for a sick person, especially in the outpatients departments.

Here examples of what I found quite frustrating from an end user point of view and a designer;

The elevators

Although they have improved a lot and now have hadicap facilities,

Patients in hospitals beds with IV stuff sharing elevators with visitors is a bizarre thing that I can’t get my mind around.

It must be terrible for the patient lying there in a small confined space with everyone looking down on him/her and it’s uncomfortable for people as well.

Food & Smells

For visitors, hospitals these days have a range of restaurant outlets for convenience. Some of these are  fast food outlets and I wonder, is junk  food being endorsed by the hospital?

The smells and crowds of visitors going from floor to  floor enroute to specific patient areas, are very disturbing to patients. A sick person does not appreciate the smells and sights of restaurants.

Doors & Germs

Most doorways in and out of hospitals, whether it is in the interior or exterior, or toilets,are not adequate  or appropriate. One  has to use hands to push or pull doors. I would think the minimum touching and germs transmitting is a critical design parameter in hospitals; apparently not!

Waiting rooms

Hospital waiting rooms have invariably become hotel lounges, some areas have comfortable sofas, television, magazines and newspapers. All these conveniences are great for the people accompanying the patient, for a sick person though in need of quiet and peace, the open lounge, the television’s volume don’t help

The patient requires small, clean, quiet corners to rest whilst waiting for the doctor

The fabric used for furniture must be easy to disinfect. Fabric harbours germs

The other side of the coin

While waiting rooms are “hotel lounges”, aesthetically, the treatment rooms, waiting rooms in front of xrays, ultrasound …etc rooms are unfriendly and sterile

Here patient are alone and really worried about the results of these tests and the environment does not help. Psychologically colours and textures play a role in the way someone feels so why are these places which should be more entertaining and a have a feel good factor ignored?

The objective of a hospital is to take care of patients. The layout, planning and furniture have to be very carefully designed and selected for the end users.

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