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Creating places that enhance the human experience...
In March, Jeff Stouffer, Executive Vice President and Global Health Director at HKS, opened a dialogue across HKS’ offices about reimagining the concept of the hospital experience for cancer patients. After reflecting on my own personal experiences over the last few years, I have taken a more idealist approach toward cancer treatment. Rather than designing within the traditional understanding of a hospital, we should look toward destinations of healing - centers where patients receive state-of-the-art medical care while simultaneously assuming a sense of independence, where family members can become an integral member of the healing team.
I look back on my personal experience with my father as he went through treatment and clearly see the drastic effects that a typical hospital environment created – additional wear and a feeling of helplessness. Once outside that setting, my father’s spirits rose and his anxiety lessened as he was able to sit outside our front door and enjoy fresh air, the sunlight on his skin and the sounds of nature. He enjoyed a sense of calm and contentment that was never present while in the hospital.
I also viewed the struggles with treatment from a distance with Carol Kartje, my colleague and personal design director for over 15 years here at HKS. Carol’s sense of control and independence were very important; having always been a strong-willed and optimistic individual, maintaining normalcy and positivity were crucial during her treatment.
With reflection upon these experiences comes the concept of a destination of healing – a state-of-the-art healing center immersed within nature. These centers challenge the traditional hospital environment while providing required medical care with individual patient and family villas set into resort-style environments. Rooted in Greek and Roman cultures, nature and the art of healing were integral aspects tied directly to an individual’s connection to natural surroundings and the healing attributes found there. This idea of destinations of healing calls for facilities that empower individuals to maintain independence and normalcy and to provide unparalleled care to those in vulnerable situations.
This is not a pragmatic thought tied to a business model, this is WHAT IF…?