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Creating Artful Spaces (Part 2)

A Three Part Series Dedicated to Patient Care

The simple sight of custom art inspires imagination, elevates mood and triggers emotions capable of improving a person’s physical state. How we experience art is changing, and healthcare is part of the trend. For centuries art has enhanced our lives, providing a sanctuary for the most vulnerable. It is no longer an after-thought, art has become a part of how medical experiences are interpreted, making it essential in patient satisfaction and recovery.

Sparrow Health System’s new Herbert-Herman Cancer Center project seamlessly incorporated one-of-a-kind art installations throughout their facility to positively influence the experience of both patients and caregivers. Each piece was thoughtfully curated and designed by one of 12 artists from across Michigan. Finally, they were carefully installed to provide respite for everyone who enters the building.

Making the First Impression
Balancing the physical needs of the cancer center’s construction with consideration for the patient’s emotional and mental needs required forward-thinking practices and teamwork across many departments. One of the main considerations was the entrance to the facility and the initial first impression for patients and their families.

Upon entering the center’s sliding glass doors, your eye is immediately drawn upwards. The main lobby’s ceiling is accentuated by the installation of a complex, multi-piece glass display that integrated with fire-suppression and key support structures. The Christman Company collaborated with the artist, subcontractors and facility maintenance crews to balance critical structures with aesthetics and human experience.

A Natural Influence
Studies have supported that visual arts can reduce stress, improve the patients’ waiting experience and increase social interactions. Moreover, art displays that reflect nature are of particular importance in a healthcare setting. When observing nature-related art specifically, a significant reduction in restlessness, noise level and people staring aimlessly in the waiting room has been shown.

Most of the art adorning the common spaces of the Herbert-Herman Cancer Center emulate nature, including the reflective green tile display off the main lobby. When designing this Pewabic tile wall installation, artist Mario Lopez created a radial pattern to imitate the shape and feel of the sun. The tiles were meticulously pieced together on-site during construction to fully capture the artist’s desired outcome.

Patient Involvement
In addition to art surrounding a patient during their treatment, supporting patient participation in the creation of art can have a positive impact on their well-being. Lansing-based artist, Kate Cosgrove, did just that for the creation of her paper cut illustration. Patients were brought together during a Survivor Day event where they were able to paint water color messages or names on long scrolls of white paper. Cosgrove took their words home and ornately cut them into birds that decorate the top of Cosgrove’s finished piece.

“I was trusted with their stories and loved ones' names. When I took these words home to cut them into the birds, they felt very precious and it was an incredibly moving experience,” Cosgrove explained. “Spending time with the caregivers, families and survivors has left a mark on my heart and I still think about them often. It was an honor to work on this art piece.”

The interactive aspect of patients creating something together has proven to reduce anxiety levels and the sheer enjoyment that participants gain from art is a powerful psychological force that helps facilitate healing.

Take a further look to see how this facility is positively impacting patient care.

To discuss opportunities for hospital-focused project planning and innovative solutions, like the ones described here, contact John O’Toole, Vice President, Healthcare Services.

What Healthcare Providers Need to Know About ASHE Certification

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) is a professional membership group of the American Hospital Association dedicated to optimizing the healthcare built environment. ASHE provides specialized education and training to prepare and certify individuals who work in the complex healthcare environment. Similar to the LEED certification process, to become a certified healthcare constructor (CHC) requires in-depth knowledge, training and experience. At The Christman Company, we understand that healthcare facilities are unique spaces that require expert attention and precaution, much like the process of treating patients. 

As a healthcare provider, there are many benefits to consider when choosing to work with partners who are ASHE certified. As CHC certified Project Executive for The Christman Company, Craig Smith, explains, “Working in a healthcare environment is different than working in any other environment. Providing a certification parameter is an excellent way to validate credibility and the ASHE certification is a respected benchmark that healthcare facilities should use to gauge the credibility of the individuals working on their construction projects.”

Healthcare constructors need to fully understand the impact construction activities have on patient safety and how to navigate space in an operational facility. Other distinct considerations include air pressure relationships, medical gas systems, infection control practices, interim life safety measures, quality, paperwork and administration, project risk assessments and security.

To become eligible for CHC certification, constructors must have at least five years of healthcare experience and most possess a higher education degree. A complete certification involves thorough studies, on-site experience and a knowledge verification exam consisting of 75-questions. A constructor’s certification is valid for three years before a renewal is required.  

 “I believe more and more healthcare facilities will require their constructors to hold a certification in the near future,” Smith states. “As healthcare construction projects become more and more complex and difficult to implement, the individuals who perform, manage, and coordinate the work should be required to have the proper experience. ASHE is in the forefront of training and has developed a sound measurement of experience with the Certified Healthcare Constructor certification process.” 

Want to learn more about how this certification helps hold Christman to a higher standard? Contact Craig Smith for more information.

Optimizing Healthcare Spaces Through Technology

Christman’s Director of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), Rob Leutheuser, recently led a presentation at the 81st annual Tennessee Healthcare Engineering Association/Tennessee Hospital Association (THEA/THA) conference. His discussion, titled “Optimizing Healthcare Facilities from Construction through Commissioning and Beyond,” focused on emerging technologies in construction and how those technologies can impact the healthcare market. Speaking to healthcare facility managers, designers and consulting engineers, Rob was able to highlight the following topics:

Benefits of Technology in Project Planning
Developing technology profoundly impacts project planning, possibly more than any other aspect of the construction process. The use of virtual and augmented reality systems during this earliest stage can set up the entire project team for success. Using these technologies during a renovation, for example, affords the ability to design projects around existing conditions, which is crucial in an occupied healthcare facility. Accurately planning around existing MEP systems can impact the placement of future equipment, save on schedule and costs, and assist in the planning of utility shutoffs of operational systems. 

Better input during design will produce better output throughout the construction process. “Technology heavily impacts all aspects of construction, not just planning,” advises Rob. 

Fostering a Collaborative Environment
Engaging various stakeholders, including the building’s healthcare and maintenance staff, offers a lean solution to help avoid late changes in design or construction. Employing the use of virtual mock-ups is one way to better understand how the healthcare spaces will function once constructed. Upgrades in technology also help keep everyone on the team on the same page throughout the construction process. Technology allows for universal access to project updates from all stakeholders, including owners, superintendents, subcontractors and architects.

Innovations Improve Lifecycle Costs
Rob cautions to begin a project with the end in mind. Maintenance and operations can account for 50-70 percent of the lifetime cost of a facility. Utilizing available technology, like a Business Information Modeling (BIM) facility management tool, can help uncover savings over the life expectancy and replacement costs of materials and systems. For example, collecting information such as manufacturer, model, serial and number of major assets through existing processes can expedite the time and improve accuracy of the client’s asset management system. As a result, work order and preventative maintenance tasks can be completed more effectively, which has a positive impact on overall lifecycle costs. 

Technology can improve overall communications and efficiencies throughout design, build and manage lifecycle. Rob hopes that those working in these healthcare facilities take the opportunity to explore technology tools that will benefit their clients and in turn, the communities that they serve.

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Ask a Healthcare Construction Expert

Brian C. Crissman, LEED AP, AVS
As vice president in Christman's West Michigan region, Brian is known for the energetic leadership he brings to the projects he directs - particularly large, complex ones, such as the Western Michigan University College of Engineering, Michigan Street Development, Spectrum Health Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, and the Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital expansion.  Read more...