Innovation That Matters

Making sure that patients were at the centre of everything was instrumental in guiding the architects’ end design | Photo source Halkin Mason

A hospital ward designed with input from patients


The Medical University of South Carolina has opened a new children’s ward that was designed by patients and their families

Spotted: The fluorescent lights and sterilised surfaces of hospitals are not inviting for anyone, and even more so for children being treated. Several years ago, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston started making plans to redesign its new children’s building, into something as empathetic as possible. To achieve the goal of creating a warmer environment, the team at MUSC decided to put patients and families, along with hospital staff and doctors, at the forefront of the design process. This started with the set-up of a 27-person design steering committee with the families of previous patients, which they called the Patient Family Advisory Council.

Global design firm Perkins&Will and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture were selected as the architects for the project, working with design teams who focus on the various clinical departments, such as the neonatal ICU, long-term care rooms, and spaces designed for children on the autism spectrum. Making sure that patients were at the centre of everything was instrumental in guiding the architects’ end design, which includes private rooms instead of open ICU bays, and guided colour and lighting choices. As colour can have strong effects on children within the hospital, the architects opted for more subtle and natural colours and emphasised the natural light. Outdoor spaces overlooking the Ashley River and Charleston Harbour were also included, with a large balcony halfway up the tower, a rooftop garden and play space.

With a €315 million budget and nearly a decade in the works, the 10-storey, 250-bed facility opened earlier this year, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perkins&Will have a grant to do a post-occupancy evaluation of the building, to see how it could be experienced by both patients and care providers in the months ahead.

Written By: Serafina Basciano

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