I'm no expert on seating, but I know what I like. I have a feeling most readers will agree with me that you know whether a chair is a “friendly sit” within seconds of sitting on it. Does it hold you firmly but comfortably, inviting you to linger a while? Or is it telling you, “If you don't want to pitch face forward to the floor in a few minutes, you'd better get up and leave”?
Having visited several healthcare institutions in recent years, not all of which were as far along on the healthcare design spectrum as this magazine might hope, I've had occasion to think about this. I admit that, as a not particularly svelte 240-pounder, I am a seating challenge. But still I wonder why, when waiting for a doctor, I have to: (a) fight to stay upright; (b) wiggle incessantly, trying to assume a comfortable attitude on a somewhat tender coccyx; or (c) alternately lean to the left or right seeking a too-low-slung arm, enduring considerable rib and back pain with each shift.
I'm not saying that all chairs need to be perfect. My easy chair at home might be viewed by some as an ergonomic nightmare, but it's my friend. I remember my dad's favored recliner having all the welcoming properties of a marble slab, yet he snoozed happily through many an evening on that thing. Having time to establish a relationship with a piece of furniture does make a difference.
But when “passing through” a waiting area, particularly one as nervous- making as a doctor's office, I think we deserve something better.
Fortunately, a recent experience I had gave me hope-a recent press tour for the well-known furniture maker KI, which is introducing its Soltíce Collection. Readers will find more information on this elsewhere in the magazine throughout the year (and about the fine healthcare lines of other furniture manufacturers, as well, I hasten to add). My only point in bringing this up is that my eyes were opened to the intense research, measuring, fabricating, and testing that goes on these days in creating a healthcare chair. I had the privilege of hearing two independent designers, Daniel Cramer and Paul James, discuss this in detail. I then tried the product (actually a line of products), and all I'll say here is that I could have happily camped there for several hours.
This, to me, typifies the hard work and conceptualizing that go into creating modern healthcare design of any kind, be it buildings, furniture, or furnishings. We really are seeing a new era of patient comfort in hospital environments. Hard evidence that this will produce better patient outcomes is steadily accumulating, thanks to the work of The Center for Health Design, among others. But this is one current and future patient who will tell you right now that this is a welcome trend, deserving of much gratitude. HD
RICHARD L. PECK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF