Richmond Magazine | Healing Hues

You need a germ-free setting when you’re providing health care, but you don’t want a sterile environment.

That’s why architects and others who plan health care facilities seek to create an environment where people can be comfortable, a place that evokes a sense of home, not just for patients and their families, but also for the doctors, nurses and others who spend working hours there. The goal is a facility that feels warm, clean and inviting, not sterile and depressing. That means that the institutional green and stark white walls so common in such settings in the previous century are no longer ubiquitous.

“You want it to look clean. You also don’t want to feel like you are in a big, sterile box,” says Courtney Cotton, a senior account manager with California-based Office Furniture Group who has worked with the Bon Secours Health System on several projects in its Richmond facilities. “You want to create that warmth and comfort that people can experience.”

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Bon Secours Short Pump Emergency Center waiting room (Photo courtesy Bon Secours)

Creating an assuring environment goes beyond wall color selections. Cotton, who is a health care interior designer, cites the thinking that goes into designing a waiting room. People fidget, so you want furniture with a tactile component to the upholstery, something that can be clean and sterilized, but that has more of a homey feel than plain plastic lines of seats bolted to beams on the wall. For the walls, there should be some inviting artwork, she says, something you can look into and feel as if you can escape.

Cotton was involved in designing the Bon Secours Short Pump Emergency Center, which opened in September. She’s also involved in the refurbishing of St. Mary’s Hospital, including its cafeteria. Bon Secours works with Office Furniture Group in selecting colors of furniture and artwork for its facilities. More…