A Healing Environment: Art at the N.C. Cancer Hospital
One of the goals of the team that designed the N.C. Cancer Hospital was to create a healing environment — and a major aspect of that goal is the art that was purchased and commissioned to complement the open, airy architecture of the new facility.
Scientific studies provide evidence that viewing art in a healthcare facility can actually contribute to better health outcomes, in terms of measurable factors such as clinical indicators, patient satisfaction, and health-related quality of life.
There are a number of theories about why there is a correlation between art and health outcomes, but the overall mechanics of the mind-body connection haven't been unraveled by science.
"One of the important concepts in planning the N.C. Cancer Hospital was an emphasis on the need to support a warm and inviting environment that would help in the healing process. The materials picked for the interiors reflect nature, while also being resilient and presenting a welcoming feeling for our patients and their families," said Mary Beck, senior vice president for systems affiliations at UNC Health Care.
"The artwork was chosen based on evidence-based parameters with an emphasis on the beauty of our state. It provides an opportunity for diversion from the day-to-day treatment that cancer patients experience," she adds.
The pieces span the spectrum of artistic media including traditional forms such as sculpture, photography, and painting to glass, ceramics, quilting, and weaving.
UNC Health Care associate vice president for oncology services, Ian Buchanan, MD, MPH, says the quilts by coastal artist Eileen Williams hanging in the lobby across from the information desk are his favorites.
"Hospitals have come a long way from the sterile ambiance many of us remember," he says. "Patients and visitors comment that it feels very warm and friendly, and that many of the images are very soothing."
The hospital's physician-in-chief Richard Goldberg, MD, concurs, "Having artwork helps make an institutional space feel more like a living room." He is particularly happy that the facility showcases North Carolina's artists, "These are familiar vistas that we see around the state."