Chia-Hui Wang recently was awarded the 2010 AAHID/Nurture Graduate Research Fellowship, as previously reported by Contract magazine. She is a doctoral student in the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Wang teaches courses in architecture and law at Hwa-Hsia Institute of Technology in Taiwan, and co-teaches the Architectural Design of Healthcare Organizations at Taipei Medical University. In light of Wang’s recent accomplishment, Contract took some time to learn a little bit more about her recent success and future plans directly from the source.
1. Just this past July, the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID) and Nurture® by Steelcase announced you the 2010 AAHID/Nurture Graduate Research Fellowship recipient. Congratulations! How do you feel about receiving this honor?
I feel very excited to receive this honor and would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the AAHID and to Nurture and their staffs. I am also proud that this study is being conducted in my home country —Taiwan. I hope that this study will be able to benefit and promote the quality of healthcare facilities in Taiwan, as well as other countries in the future.
2. You’ve stated that one of your main focuses with this fellowship will be on nursing station design. Can you describe your goals/predicted outcomes for your designs?
Decentralized stations seem to have become the “best practice” in current nursing unit design. Previous research has shown that decentralized stations have advantages, such as less staff time spent walking, more time for patient care, and less socialization with decreased noise. On the other hand, these designs also have some drawbacks. In decentralized stations, some nurses feel more isolated and insecure about their own capabilities. It is more difficult for nurses to support each other in case of emergency. Moreover, it may not be easy for communication among staff in a decentralized nurses’ station. My study will explore users’ experiences in an innovatively designed decentralized nurses’ station to see if it successfully incorporates advantages of centralized and decentralized stations, thereby offering the best of both worlds.
3. What do you feel is lacking in healthcare design today? What areas need more attention, why?
Cross-disciplinary cooperation. I truly believe if more professions, such as healthcare administration, nursing, and psychology etc., worked to educate themselves in healthcare facility design and cooperated with each other; this field would be more interesting and diversified.
4. With your designs so deeply rooted in healthcare, what has been your experience in working with healthcare professionals? What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Healthcare is highly professionalized. Therefore, you must understand their professional languages when you work with healthcare professionals. Otherwise, they may not trust you.
5. How do you see healthcare design evolving in the future, over the next 10 to 20 years?
I expect that the future of healthcare will not be what it used to be. Healthcare organizations may not invest as much in traditional patient-care facilities as they did in the past. Breakthroughs in medical technology, telemedicine, imaging, and surgical techniques continue to reshape hospitals and healthcare systems. Additionally, the revolution in patient-centered care redefines healthcare facilities as highly healing environments. Furthermore, changes of reimbursement policies and aging populations are driving the creation of new types of long-term care facilities.
6. You’ve done extensive research in healthcare architecture, long-term care facility design, and justice architecture. When and where did these interests begin?
I have been interested in healthcare architecture and long-term care facility design since 2002. The original interest came from one simple thought: how to form a healthy and safe environment for elderly and patients who are in vulnerable situations. Developed countries have experienced tremendous growth in their elderly populations. (United Nations statistics indicate that roughly one out of every 10 persons in the world is aged 60 years or older today. This ratio is projected to rise to one in five by 2050 and one in three by 2150.) This shift in demographics is fueling rising demand for quality, home-like long-term care facilities.
7. What is your favorite or most meaningful project that you have completed to date?
“Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Negative-Pressure Isolation Rooms.” The results of this study can be used to modify existing guidelines for negative-pressure isolation rooms. This study also proved that POEs using the balanced scorecard approach provide a balanced viewpoint for facility evaluation.
8. Do you have any long-term career goals you’d like to share?
I would like to promote the importance of evidence-based design through the publication of my research results in the future.
9. If you had to describe your design aesthetic in just one sentence, how would you describe it?
Aesthetic must achieve a delicate balance between users and designers; both parties must accept and be comfortable with it.