Fevers, faints, falls, and funny turns are often the instigators for people to head to a hospital, whether as a patient or a visitor. These circumstances naturally create a sense of trepidation, arouse moments of uncertainty and tug at the reality of human fragility. They also colour our perceptions of a hospital as a place, generating images of an institution that peels the individual of agency and removes them from fully functioning in society.
Yet in every hospital there are thousands of stories of recovery and return, thousands of professionals dedicated to wellness and thousands of dollars invested in innovation and technology.
Over recent years place-making principles have been applied to hospitals. Greater attention has been being paid to integrating the physical exterior with local character. Rethinking of interior designs has fostered interdisciplinary collaboration, and a greater focus on amenity and use of public spaces aims to enhance the visitor experience.
While this means that the hospital today stands tall as place in a City, momentum is fast growing for the hospital to become a place of the City.
Where the hospital grounds seamlessly evolve into City public parks programmed with activities, local economies thrive on health related jobs and neighbourhoods provide accommodation and transport options that facilitate open and equality of access.
At the pinnacle of this integrated place-based approach lies the health – education - innovation precinct. For the City of Cleveland, Ohio, the development of the Health-Tech Corridor has transformed the economy from a fading manufacturing base to a world leader in healthcare and biomedical industries. While in the City of Surrey, Vancouver, an integrated approach to retail, work, public spaces and multi modal transportation has driven the development of the LEED gold design Health and Technology District.
Central to the success of the health-education-innovation precinct is recognition that what makes a hospital a great place is synonymous to what makes a City a great place.
A recent exercise with health professionals conducted by the Cities Leadership Institute reinforced this City/Hospital health place synchronicity. Asked what makes a healthy city and what makes a healthy hospital, the participant responses duplicated and overlapped. Three common themes emerged - access to good food, safe open spaces for reflection and recreation, and opportunities to connect with others.
To urban leaders, who are well versed in the art and science of place-making, this comes as no surprise. The urban challenge of today is for the City and the hospital to collaborate, curate, and coordinate to adopt a place-based approach that addresses and advances the holistic health of the citizen and the community.
Health Professionals Response
What Makes a Healthy City?
What Makes a Healthy Hospital?
Easy access for all
Rooms with a view
Happy, valued staff
Sense of community
Meditation for staff
Communication and Just Culture
More community involvement
Food room service
Community arts programs
Healthy food choices
Leaders that value staff and give permission to try new things
Heath food service
Visually friendly health facilities
Good patient and staff experiences