Houston Methodist employees’ art helps patients navigate the emergency department
When Houston Methodist Hospital decided to revamp their emergency department, patient comfort and efficient use of space were top priorities.
The emergency department expansion not only doubled patient capacity—growing from 20 to 39 beds—but also added welcoming aesthetic changes.
“I’ve been with the hospital for 13 years and 2½ years [in the emergency department,]” said Kimberley DuBose, operations manager for emergency services at Houston Methodist. “When I first came over here, one of the projects that we were undertaking was an expansion of the ED. When I first started, it was like circa 1950—sterile white walls, very harsh environment and that didn’t help much with the fact that patients and family members were already coming in stressed out with the type of care that they were looking for.”
To add warmth and efficiency to the space, the emergency department partnered with the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist known as CPAM.
“We did softer colors throughout the ED and we took the opportunity to color-code our stations,” DuBose said. “We have six stations within the ED and way-finding is a fun thing. … Walking anywhere in a hospital, there are hallways upon hallways and even within our contained ED, sometimes it gets very confusing. So we color-coded different stations so family members would know which hallway they were in—which room and what nurses stations correlated to their loved one or themselves.”
In addition to the calming green, blue and orange accent walls, CPAM and the emergency department team complemented the space with employee photographs in similar hues.
“The employee photography contest started nine years ago under the umbrella of the Methodist experience. The hospital wanted to find a way for the employees to contribute to the soul of the hospital and share their unique talents,” said Shay Thornton Kulha, a CPAM project manager. “There are no shortages of white walls in any hospital and in an effort to embrace the healing environment of care at Houston Methodist, we want to showcase the whole person of a caregiver.”
Over time, the employee photography contest has become a source of great pride for Houston Methodist employees. This year, there were more than 800 submissions, which represented all Houston Methodist locations. The show jury included hospital, community and arts leaders who selected 40 images for display in Dunn Tower. Each year, the hospital picks a theme that relates to the hospital’s “I CARE” values and also has a tie to nature. Most recently, the theme was Under Texas Skies.
To showcase the creative talents of Houston Methodist employees and to help patients navigate the emergency department more effectively, the blues of starry nights in Jackson Hole and the greens of dewy grass blades enhanced color-coded stations.
“We also pulled the color-coding into the pictures,” DuBose said. “Instead of painting the walls all orange for example, we painted accents and then used the employee photographs to really make it pop. In addition to helping patients, we have seen a bigger benefit from the project. … We knew it was going to have an impact on the environment, but we find that our staff members also use the photographs to calm patients and staff members.”