Like A Good Neighbor: Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis
We hear a lot about community health and how hospitals can use their role in our lives to help promote healthy living and active lifestyles.
A lot of projects we cover for Healthcare Design talk about landscaped campuses that have paths to encourage walking and plenty of respite spaces for the staff, visitors, and patients to take a break and grab some fresh air. Inside, rooms are dedicated to hosting community events or educational seminars. (Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s four-season gardens, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital’s accessible spaces, and Mercy West’s green roof are a few that come to mind.)
Efforts like these go a long way in changing perceptions about what a healthcare facility can be. But as these features start to become commonplace, designers and architects will be challenged to come up with the next great idea or amenity.
A recent tour of the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, one of the country’s largest public safety-net hospitals in the country, provides some noteworthy inspiration.
A few years ago, the Indianapolis-based organization got the opportunity to build a new hospital in the center of the city. During initial planning discussions, Matthew Gutwein, president and CEO of Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County (Indianapolis), the parent company of Eskenazi Health, says the healthcare provider identified a goal of bringing something meaningful to patients and the community.
“We wanted the space to not only be convenient and intuitive but also uplifting and inspiring, and to encourage people to live well and be well,” he says.
Eskenazi Health’s new 37-acre campus has plenty of outdoor spaces and ample views to campus courtyards and gardens. There’s also an abundance of artwork (both inside and out) and large windows that bring natural light inside to caregivers, patients, and waiting family members. The campus connects to a city-wide wellness trail.
But its commitment to community goes further. Here are three ideas that stand out:
1. Healing message before you get in the building
At its front door, a green space and open-air plaza, called The Commonground, not only has water features and plenty of places to sit and take in the sights and sounds, but it also hosts yoga classes and farmer’s markets. Fresh herbs are grown between the sidewalks and used at the nearby freestanding restaurant. Gutwein says on warm days, the local daycare enjoys the grounds by bringing children to splash around in the “Healing Waters” art feature.
2. Healing sounds
Inside the main lobby, a concert grand piano, which was donated by a local philanthropist, hosts performances by students and professors from the local colleges. That effort has further evolved into the local chamber orchestra reaching out and asking if it could bring small chamber groups to play at the bedside of the hospital’s sickest patients.
3. Fuel for healthy living
Seven stories up on the rooftop of the ambulatory care building, a 5,000-square foot edible landscape is a place where visitors, patients, and staff members are encouraged to visit and dig around in the dirt. A full-time horticulturist overseas the growing of fresh produce, including radishes, greens, and tomatoes, which is harvested and used onsite as well as for educational cooking classes held on campus and at other Eskenazi Health care centers.
As healthcare evolves, organizations need to recognize that it will take a range of strategies to inspire people to live healthier and to view hospitals as a source of support and ideas.
“We’re hopefully not only improving the health of our community but also the quality of life,” Gutwein says.
It's also helping take healing and community connectedness to a broader level.
For more on the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, check out Healthcare Design's November issue. You can also listen to this podcast with Matthew Gutwein as he talks about the importance of natural light, artwork, and campus green spaces at the new hospital.