The concept of healing environments is not new. The idea of creating an environment that would facilitate healing was popular over 2000 years ago, but it has been only recently that this concept has been applied to the design of hospitals and specifically to intensive care units. Although it is necessary to address the needs of the professional staff who are caring for seriously ill patients, it is also critical to include specific elements that will enhance the patients' healing process. It has been demonstrated that views of nature, natural light, soothing colors, therapeutic sounds, and the interaction of one's family can enhance the healing process. These elements important to a patient's healing process must be considered and balanced with the needs of health care providers in the design of critical care environments.
Principal, Healthcare Consulting Division, The Stichler Group, Inc., San Diego, California