Through the eyes of a child

27 Oct 2011

Pediatric unit uses colour to comfort and heal

Hospitals have long been thought of as cold and sterile, so when the time came to design the Pediatric Unit at Kadlec Regional Medical Center, the goal was to provide a facility that was warm, inviting and visually stimulating for patients and visitors.

Completed in 2009 following Planetree principles, which encourages healing in all dimensions – mental, emotional, spiritual, social and physical – the facility was designed with children in mind. The moment the elevator doors open, visitors step into an underwater dreamscape, with sea creatures and ocean colours expressed in the floor patterns, artwork, ceiling tiles, furnishings and finish materials.

Each patient room is identified with its own unique creature, which is displayed in the intricately-inlaid linoleum flooring (chosen because of the variety of available colours) on the bed linens, and on wooden sculptural pieces above each bed.

The patient corridor ceilings are dotted with round acoustical tiles in shades of blue and green, which provide both noise dampening and visual distraction for young patients being transported lying down. They also provide a unique wayfinding element, with patients able to count the number of circles from one location to another. Patient room ceilings get special treatment, too, with blue and white sky scenes painted above each bed.

In the common areas, natural hardwood floors lead to softly-coloured walls as ample natural light floods through floor-to-ceiling windows, further highlighted by sky motif light panels. Natural river rock fireplaces give off a warm glow while visitors relax on richly-upholstered, home-like furnishings. These elements further enforce the seascape theme by inviting patients and their families into a beachside resort-like setting.

From finishes to living elements, the pediatric unit embraces colour in all aspects, including in the 15-ft, curved, 800-gallon saltwater fish tank, which includes vibrant corals and rocks, and inside which live various species of marine life, which directly correlate to the designs in the patient rooms.

Even the lighting colours received special attention, from lighting panels with underwater scenes in the treatment rooms to patient-controlled lighting in individual rooms, and headwall lights in warm shades which act as a glowing nightlight for young patients.

The design of the Pediatric Unit truly uses colour as it appeals to all of the senses - not just the visual - in the hope of creating a healing, efficient, functional and interactive healthcare setting that is unlike any other.

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