For too long, doctors’ offices have been equated with sterile decor that not only looks cold, but also causes patients to feel anxious, like they’re in a hospital. A group of clinics around town now boast spiffy, homey interiors that help patients feel more at ease when it comes to medical appointments — all in an effort to make them feel healthy, not sick.
According to a 2015 study in the Health Environments Research & Design Journal, lighter colors have a pacifying effect in hospital rooms. “Blues and grays are calming,” says Andy Grover, vice president of real estate and development at One Medical, a chain of clinics with nine NYC locations. Grover also is a proponent of using natural woods in offices, for both flooring and furniture, and plush rugs to “add a bit of warmth” to the spaces.
“When you go to a doctor’s office and you see a row of 12 vinyl chairs, you [can] feel like a number,” says Grover. Upholstered armchairs and sofas covered in “fabrics you would probably have in your home” outfit the Tribeca office of One Medical. According to a 2002 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, subjects associated waiting rooms that had warm furnishings and decor with higher quality of care.
“Natural light is incredibly important,” says architect Jonathan Schloss, who designed the light-filled space of Extend Fertility, an egg-freezing clinic in Midtown with oversize windows. According to a 2006 study published by the Center for Health Design, “adequate and appropriate exposure to light is critical for health and well-being of patients, as well as staff in health care settings.”
Labyrinthine spaces can contribute to patient stress in a medical setting, according to a 2016 report on hospital circulation zones in Health Environments Research & Design Journal. Even more crucial is medical transparency through design — having meeting rooms and lab spaces within view from common areas, with glass walls instead of solid ones.
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