Interior Design Brings the Outside In

Posted 20 February 2015 10:21 AM by TCAuthor3

By Carol Ryczek, community relations manager, Shawano Medical Center

Decades of good quality research have taught us that the atmosphere in which a patient receives health care can meaningfully affect his or her spirits and feelings of anxiety, peace and security.  When people feel safe and calm, they heal better and more quickly. This truth has guided our decisions about how to design, decorate and even orchestrate the new ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano.

I like to describe the feeling time of our new hospital as a “hilly environment.”  Don’t worry! There are no hills to climb or trails to break. Instead, patients and their families will encounter soothing colors and pleasant, calming diversions, kind of like discovering a pleasant new view as you come to the crest of a gentle hill. Elements such as color, artwork, building materials and natural sunlight peacefully engage the senses.

Hundreds of community members responded to surveys or attended input meetings to help us craft the interior design theme for our new hospital. I find it interesting that we still even call it interior design, because one of the strongest priorities— across all ages, genders and cultural backgrounds — was the importance of bringing the outside in. Our people wanted big windows, natural sunlight and building materials of natural wood and stone. As you will soon discover, the patient rooms have panoramic views of the outdoors. Public hallways are lit by natural sunlight and signs clearly direct people to their destinations within the building. Walkways and patient rooms are acoustically designed to limit bothersome noise. Wood and stone are beautifully integrated into shared spaces.

 I love the way that these community conversations helped us to craft a healing environment that speaks to who we are as a people—authentic, in touch with our roots, and committed to restoring one another to good spirits and good health. Nature —and nurturing— heals.