architecture · behavior · emotion · health

New WA hospitals are more open, less foreboding –

St. Elizabeth Hospital
Old hospital style: not very healing. Image by reallyboring via Flickr

Getting sick and not feeling well is scary, so it’s good to see hospitals becoming more in-tune to the whole user experience. Here is one such case, with a new hospital opening up in Enumclaw, WA.

“The innovative designs at Swedish/Issaquah and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw, like other new hospitals, include big windows that let in natural light, rooms with pullout couches for overnight visitors, and even hospital beds that ask patients questions in different languages…

…The design highlights food and spa and wellness products. The hospital opens into a five-story atrium surrounded by a mall, and its lobby includes a fireplace and a destination restaurant with a wood-burning oven.

The changes are driven in part by competition for patients with good insurance, the Seattle Times reported, Outpatient services, giving prime space to medical offices and centers that provide chemotherapy and radiology were emphasized.

The new St. Elizabeth in Enumclaw opened in February with beds programmed to provide information and to ask questions in 20 languages. For example, a bed might tell a patient in Spanish: “You have a tube in your throat to help you breathe.” The realization that critically ill patients may not speak English prompted the purchase.

St. Elizabeth and the new $365 million Swedish campus are part of a U.S. hospital building boom in suburbs and fast-growing communities that is now evident in urban areas as well.”

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More research is also finding that people who have views of nature heal faster when they’re sick or recovering from surgery, so bring on the light, bring on the green!

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