Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hospital Design Part 3 - What works at Midcoast Hospital

Finally, I am back to writing in this blog after over a month of completing other web based projects.  Namely completing my book of photography and art, entitled, "Flash of Perception", which can be purchased online at and totally rebuilding my website.  Both were very time consuming but rewarding projects. So finally I get back to follow up on my discussion of the aesthetic design of hospital spaces to enhance the wellbeing of patients and workers alike.

 I took pictures a couple weeks ago of MidCoast Hospital, in Brunswick, ME.  The design of the hospital is based on the philosophy that nature, light and art all play an important part in the healing environment.  I'd spoken earlier about my experiences with Maine Medical in Portland, which is an older and very active urban hospital, that is currently going through some remodelling, but is basically still geared towards expediency and the traditional de-humanizing design for patient rooms.

So let's take a look at MidCoast and see what seems to work.  First note the tall tower at the entry to the hospital.  This is an open stairwell to the upper floor and fills the entry with light.

Indeed the entire first floor has large windows facing the drive so  the halls are filled with the natural light.

The woods, rocks and streams that surround the building are brought indoors as well with two large stone and water sculptures by Andreas Van Huene in the outpatient services waiting areas.

Rather than the cold sterility of metal and formica, the desks and entries to the departments are designed with woodwork reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs.

Artwork plays a major role throughout the hospital from the Zorach sculpture at the main entrance
to these colorful murals in the corridor to the new emergency room wing.

This stairwell just outside the emergency room is sunny and bright  (looks almost like a grand staircase in some mansion) actually leads to the patient's rooms in the surgical ward and the family waiting areas.

The emergency room itself is cheerful with light colored wood and glass dividers between seating areas, tons of windows and a children's play area at one end.

Upstairs between the maternity ward and the surgical recovery wards is an oval room for meditation that provides a peaceful spot for reflection for those in need of it.  The entry to the space has poetry for contemplation etched on glass panels and back lit,  along with a place for visitors to write their prayers and comments.

The interior of the Meditation Room has a stone fountain and stained glass with a lovely recessed skylight bringing in the natural light and world once again for contemplation.

The upstairs waiting room was sunny and bright too with comfortable seating and views of the woods and garden.

The patient rooms were all singles with large windows and artwork on the walls, not just the stats and posters like Maine Med.

The hallways are carpeted to keep the noise down too.

Out back there is a Healing Garden for staff, patients and visitors to enjoy with seating, a small fountain and views into the woods.  All of these features add to a general sense of wellbeing that can only enhance the healing properties of the hospital.  Here is a hospital that thinks about healing the whole person not just the body.

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