How Healthcare Facilities that Evolve Succeed

By Kurt Johnson Photography • September 8, 2020

landscape water river grasses trees clouds sunset

Effective healthcare environments are ones that become an extension of their communities and evolve based on the needs of those they serve. 

One such facility is Phelp’s Memorial Health Center in Holdredge, NE. 

Because this project was an expansion of their existing clinic, an important aspect when selecting the artwork and designing the new environment, according to Amber Sheckler, interior designer for BSA LifeStructures, who handled the architecture and interior design for the project, was trying to make things look cohesive within the new space.  

PMHC Chief Experience Officer, Lacie Westcott, echoed this sentiment, stating, “We wanted to connect the buildings so we could have some continuity between clinic and hospital” (Kearney Hub). 

And while many of our projects are new construction, providing artwork for expansions of existing hospitals and clinics can be just as important and challenging.

Knowing many of the images selected would be used for infusion bays and throughout oncology and waiting areas, we knew how important it would be to use images backed by the principles of evidence-based design research. 

Exposure to nature scenes and murals have been found to decrease pain in cancer patients and those undergoing procedures (Hathorn, Nanda, 2008).

And another study by Sarah Blaschke suggests that access to nature can support patients to navigate the clinical and personal struggles of cancer (2017). 

Our experience providing healing nature images to hospitals and clinics throughout the country allowed us to recommend images that would promote positive outcomes for patients and the entire care team and, as Amber Sheckler agreed, there was more at stake than simply choosing pretty images:

“It got personal for me.  My father had cancer, and as you get older and start designing these spaces, not just by what looks good, but also by relating it to the patient and how it can help them, the design aspect of it becomes a lot more meaningful.”    

waterscape landscape river trees yellow blue forest shore

The result was an outstanding addition to Memorial Phelp’s Health Center, engineered by Leo A Daily with furniture provided by Eakes Office Solutions. 

As mentioned earlier, a facility’s ability to meet the ever-changing needs of its community truly determine its success, which is why a second story was built (currently empty) above the entire new addition (Kearney Hub).  Westcott insisted, “We don’t sit still very long,” and that’s what makes this facility so ground-breaking (Kearney Hub). 

midwest tree blue sky green grass clouds sun flare field

We want to leave you with a message from a woman receiving life-saving cancer treatments at a hospital in a different part of the country.  It’s a reminder for all of us of the important work that goes on behind the scenes when new facilities are being built or old ones are being improved:

“My radiation oncology center has the prettiest photography, all beautifully framed, on its walls. This wildflower landscape is by Kurt Johnson Photography. I’ve been all over this hospital and other medical offices and there are some dark, drab spaces out there that make you want to curl into a ball in the corner. So I really love when a healing space has bright light and great art and thoughtful design. I think it reminds us patients of all the beauty in the world we want to stick around for.” – Liv L.

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