The Need for Nature in Urban Hospital Environments
With seventy percent of Americans living in an urban environment, it is more important now than ever before to incorporate evidence based design principles in the healthcare space. This article in Psychology Today explores the importance of nature in cognitive performance. “Exposure to nature has been correlated with decreased stress, diminished anger and anxiety, increased job satisfaction, and faster recovery times for postoperative patients. Sunshine and breezes really are the key to renewable energy,” says author Courtney Hutchison.The article describes a study at the University of Michigan that found a 45-minute walk in the park enhances cognitive performance, while walking in an urban area does not have the same effect. Simply put, nature gives our mental muscles a chance to refresh.
Strategically crafted healthcare art programs can support evidence based design by incorporating nature elements and encouraging patients and visitors to experience art in a more beneficial way. Some examples include:
- Outdoor spaces for staff and patients to walk in gardens or parking lots that are lined with trees.
- Images of nature rather than urban views or abstract art.
- “Nature champions” on the healthcare team who encourage patients and visitors to experience outdoor spaces when appropriate.
- Exterior dining options.
- Reflective spaces such as labyrinths and healing gardens.
Lake Health TriPoint Medical Center is a wonderful example of incorporating nature in the healthcare setting.