Family caregivers can spend long periods of time in the Level I trauma ICU at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y. Previously, the hospital housed a waiting room adjacent to the ICU where visitors could take a break without leaving the unit, but it wasn’t an ideal setting to have a consultation with medical professionals or try to rest, says Tom Lurcott, director of design coordination at Westchester Medical Center.

“It was far too small to offer privacy to any more than a single family group at one time,” he says.

The Lieberman family experienced that setting first-hand after their son Evan was brought to the ICU and spent 30 days in the unit before dying from his injuries. Afterward, the family decided to raise money to expand and renovate the caregiver area to feature a healing environment with amenities that address the needs a family may face in a time of trauma.

The Evan Lieberman Friends and Family Lounge opened in October 2015.

The project started by relocating some support and office spaces to expand the existing lounge and rerouting some internal corridors to move clinical traffic away from the quiet waiting area. The new lounge features two private consultation rooms, two enclosed rooms with sleeping couches, a small kitchen with a nutrition station, and a locker room with a shower.

“The opportunity for family members to stay near their loved one, have some privacy, and rest in comfortable surroundings enhances their ability to help the patient,” Lurcott says.

To create a soothing setting, the 2,400-square-foot space uses cool blue and gray floor and wall coverings, wood accents, and upholstered chairs and couches.

Linda McGinnis, RN and vice president of patient care services at Westchester Medical Center, says families appreciate the convenience and the new amenities, which allow them to support their own family members as well as become a help network for others. “It fosters respect and dignity,” she says.

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Environments for Aging. She can be reached at