SAN DIEGO--More than a year after the opening of the Barbara Ann
Karmanos Cancer Institute, patients and staff alike are giving its design high
marks. Dore Shepard, RN, MS, OCN, administrative manager for Cancer Patient
Services at the Institute, said that the goal was to have a facility that
creates a healing environment for patients.
Ms. Shepard explained the 18-month design and construction process and its
results in her poster presentation at the 26th Annual Congress of the Oncology
Nursing Society (abstract 141).
"Many cancer organizations are going through hospital renovations. I
belong to a group called the Center for Health Design," she said. "It
works on developing designs for hospital environments that create a positive
impact on patients."
The hospitalization experience in itself can be a source of stress for
patients, she said. Research studies have confirmed the effect environment has
on patients. While this stress can occur no matter what the illness, she said
that cancer especially demands a healing environment that takes into account
the patient’s mental, spiritual, and physical comfort.
Peter Karmanos donated $5 million for the 25-bed, 15,000 square-foot cancer
unit at Harper Hospital in Detroit. Ms. Shepard said she was given carte
blanche to design it, and she sought input from patients and staff.
A Patient Advisory Council was shown a selection of original artwork from
which they selected. Patients and family members chose the guest room
furniture. Staff members from the most recently renovated unit were surveyed
regarding design areas to improve on, and nursing staff had input throughout
One of the key areas addressed was noise. "Patients don’t want a
noisy environment," Ms. Shepard emphasized. The result was a
glass-enclosed nursing station, acoustic panels that may be covered with
artistically designed fabric, and softly vibrating beepers for nursing staff
that notify them of patient requests.