One might say that architect Michael Graves has the ‘inside’ story on hospital rooms. After a sinus infection left him paralyzed from the chest down, Graves found himself a patient in eight different hospitals and three different rehabilitation centers, each of which left him wanting, to say the least, a more efficient and appealing hospital design. During his talk at the 2011 TEDMED conference, Graves even joked, “It’s far too ugly for me to die here,” in reference to his hospital and healthcare center stays.
Architect Michael Graves Pushes for Healthy Hospital Rooms
Graves, who has designed award-winning projects all over the world, writes in the mission statements for his companies Michael Graves & Associates and Michael Graves Design Group:
“Our mission is to provide clients around the globe with innovative design solutions that are functional, sustainable, sensitive and beautiful. We strive to make the ordinary extraordinary- functionally and aesthetically. We believe that good design is humanistic, familiar, accessible and intuitive.”
Graves discusses his experience in the hospital, struggling to maneuver and ultimately realizing that these are “dumb rooms that we are making … the money that should be spent on the patient room is instead being spent on hospital atriums to make them look like hotels.”
As the featured speaker at the 2012 Health Forum and the American Hospital Association Leadership Summit held in San Francisco last month, Michael Graves discussed a number of ways to improve patient experience in hospitals with better design in a lecture entitled, “People First: Redesigning the Hospital Room.” Among the innovations suggested were a collection of furniture that addresses common hospital concerns, including infection control, patient falls and clinician back issues. At the conference, Graves partnered with the Copper Development Association’s Antimicrobial Copper Program to promote the use of antimicrobial copper in healthcare facilities to improve infection control.
Regarding many of the finer design elements of hospital rooms, Graves has said, “They don’t make big mistakes. They just made the most frustrating mistakes you could ever imagine and made your cure more difficult. Your room should make it easier for the doctors and the aides and the patient. But instead it does just the opposite.”
Now Michael Graves has his employee’s spend a week in a wheelchair in order to better understand the needs of those will use the furniture and rooms they’re responsible for designing. Regarding his own inexplicable and unexpected paralysis, and the drive to this unique niche in health care reform it’s inspired, Graves remarks, “This is my life now…I take on health care. That’s pretty good. I wouldn’t have been a health care nut if it hadn’t been for my paralysis, so something good came from this.”
Perhaps more importantly, hopefully with better hospital designs will also come safer, and more health-promoting hospitals. Seeing as hospital rooms are chock-full of errors, and seeing as fast food restaurants like McDonalds are being served in hospitals, changes are more than necessary.