Transforming Hospitals into Healthy Places for Everyone

Arlington Heights, IL (June 14, 2007)- “Some of the early hospitals were built around courtyards,” notes Angela Stefaniu, Vice-President for Marketing and Business Development at Northwest Community Hospital near Chicago in Arlington Heights, Illinois. “They saw nature as part of the healing process. But now hospitals have become more like healthcare factories.”

Stefaniu is helping lead an effort for her hospital to blend the latest advances in medical treatment with a new vision of becoming a restorative, health-promoting place in itself. “We’re looking at how hospitals have institutionalized themselves, creating boundaries and barriers to the community sense. How do we change the perception of hospitals as places people want to avoid at all costs?”
Working with the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) on a public space plan for their campus, she’s come up with many answers to that question. Health education and recreation programs. Making the area around the hospital more pedestrian friendly. Entertainment events. Creating a connection to a nearby park and athletic fields. A farmers market featuring healthy produce and foods. Tai chi classes on the front lawn. A rooftop garden. Enlisting local garden clubs to plant flowers and even vegetables. A bocce ball court on the grounds.
Kathy Madden, Senior Vice President of PPS, sees the plans for Northwest Community Hospital blossoming one day into an entire health district, the way cities have entertainment or financial districts.
“Ultimately we want a healthy community,” Stefaniu enthuses. “Hospitals can focus more than on just medical help by looking at other aspects of health. PPS really opened my eyes to new ways to promote healthy living. It helps broaden the definition of what a hospital is.”
For more information, contact Kathy Madden at Project for Public Spaces.
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