The Center for Health Design has recently gone through a major growth spurt. For any of you who pay attention to this column on a regular basis or read our news releases that are sent via e-mail, it may seem as though we add one or two new employees every month to The Center staff—and that's because we have been!

In the last year alone we have grown our staff to a total of 16 employees. What I find most amazing is not only the quality of the people who find their way to The Center for employment but their level of dedication to the industry—extraordinary given that most of them come to us from outside of the traditional design or healthcare fields.

I can usually spot a future Center employee in the first in-person interview. They often have their own stories of experiences, both good and bad, with the healthcare system and healthcare environments. If they are from outside our industry, they usually have spent some time on The Center's Web site. I can hear the passion in their voices start to grow when they talk about how they had never made the connection between the physical environment and their experiences in healthcare, but how after reading through the Web site, it became so obvious to them. Their indignation grows when they think about all of the negative experiences they or their family members have had, or they excitedly share the stories they have of positive experiences that were supported by the physical environment. New staff quickly catch the bug and become dedicated to the goals and mission of The Center. It's reenergizing for me to see the fresh excitement of our industry through their eyes.


In addition to our talented staff, there are many groups of volunteers that work closely with The Center to bring our work to reality. They tirelessly help us disseminate the work so that it reaches much farther into our industry, and we could not be as effective without them.

One such group is the Environmental Standards Council (ESC). This cadre of nearly 30 volunteer professionals from throughout the industry and across the United States meets four times a year in New York City to work on meaningful projects together. Their most notable success has been their work with the Facilities Guidelines Committee of The American Institute of Architects to create and build the “Environment of Care” chapter, which will be an ongoing initiative.

In addition to the Guidelines work, the ESC is attacking the issue of medical equipment design. Their initial project will be the development of a design competition in which entrants will be challenged with redesigning everyday medical equipment such as IV poles and sharps containers.

Later this year, the ESC will be publishing a set of best practices white papers on specific design elements that affect healthcare environments such as wayfinding, security, and landscape architecture. These papers will be available to download for free on The Center's Web site by early fall. The ESC is an amazing group of dedicated and committed leaders. They welcome your input and involvement. If you have questions or comments for them, contact Carolyn Quist, the ESC staff liason at The Center, at cquist@healthdesign.org.

We don't manufacture and sell widgets at The Center—we trade in ideas; in education, research, and advocacy work. We can't work on improving the reliability of our widgets, but we can provide the best possible support and tools to the people out there working on a daily basis to build and improve healthcare environments, equipment, and furnishings. We can build an organization of dedicated and passionate individuals that listens to you and learns with you, and that is what we are striving for every day.

I invite you to take the time to sign up on our Web site if you have not already done so (http://www.healthdesign.org) and send me a message personally to let me know how you think we are doing in this area. Are there resources out there that you would find helpful? Are there ways to access information that you feel we should be including in our offerings?

We launched a new webinar series this year in conjunction with Vendome Group, LLC, and had more than 400 participants at the inaugural program. Would you find more of these types of opportunities useful for you as you go about your work? If you have an opinion, we are interested in knowing what you think.

When I think of my work with The Center for Health Design over the past 17-plus years and all of the exceptional people that I am fortunate to interact with and support on a daily basis as we work towards our common goals, I frequently come back to a well-used, yet very appropriate, Margaret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has.”HD