MEDICAL and wellness tourism is emerging as a growing industry for the Philippines. It is probably made famous by our culturally accommodating and hospitable character as a Filipino people, our beautiful beaches and mountain ridges. This is an industry that carries so much potential, as it reflects our intrinsic Filipino value of being warm and caring. But aside from it becoming an industry, new researches show that hospitals function more than just a place for doctor’s consultation. It can also be a place of well-being coupled with the world-class excellence of our Filipino doctors, nurses, and health care professionals.
A few decades back, hospitals and health centers were commonly feared by people. It is a place that most of us go to whenever we think there is something wrong with our body. It is also destination in the Philippines that many fear after the lechon and sisig season of Christmas. Before even entering the clinic of the doctor, the patient is already suffering from psychological stress. It certainly does not help that when the patient arrives in the hospital and there is heavy traffic at drop of point, the lobby is dark and poorly lit. Such is also the case when the first sight one sees in the lobby is patients pushed in hospital beds coming from either the operating room or emergency room.
But I think, and others too I believe will agree with me, patients and visitors should not have fear nor stress when visiting the hospital or clinic. Instead, they should feel relieved and refreshed that they are going to be taken care of and that they will become healthier after the trip.
Before hospitals are given licenses to operate, the Department of Health (DOH) requires applicants to conform to “The Guidelines in the Planning Design of a Hospital and Other Health Facilities.” This is with reference to Republic Act No. 4226, also known as the Hospital Licensure Act.
New developments in hospital architecture
Around the world, hospitals are realizing the importance of adding greenery and landscaping as an integral part of the design. Research in Singapore shows that doctors, hospital staff and patients feel more at ease and relaxed by the sight of a beautiful landscaping as it greets them at the hospital entrance. Many hospitals have already adopted to their design the placement of an open or sky garden on the top of the buildings which are easily accessible to all patients, most especially to Persons with Disability (PWDs) and to the elderly. In a hospital in Singapore, the management is even keeping track of the variety of butterflies and plants in their garden. In Thailand, some hospitals are integrating aspects of a hotel such as The Bumrungrad hospital-hotel.
Palafox architecture designs:
St. Luke’s Medical Center, Quezon City
In the master plan that we designed for the future of St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC), we made sure that we incorporated the best practices of hospitals around the world, as well as insights given by doctors and patients themselves.
Upon entering the complex, you will be treated to scenery of walkways filled with trees, a park, and the historical Episcopalian church. This visual corridor impresses a strong sense of arrival that is calm, serene, and contemplative, as opposed to the traditional hospital design where you would be greeted by a sea of parked cars and heavytraffic.Having the sense of arrival is probably one of the most lasting impressions that we will have in a place, and it can greatly help patients and guests to have a positive disposition about wellness.
The plan for SLMC is to make it walkable, bikeable, pedestrian-oriented and have a strong sense of community. It will also integrate a mix of uses, including places to live, work, dine, shop, learn, and worship, among others.
Tarlac Medical Center
In our architectural design for the soon to rise Tarlac Medical Center, we made sure that green sustainable design and beautiful landscaping is integrated to the entire infrastructure. Apart from the 100-bed hospital (with provision for additional 50 beds), 80 outpatient doctor’s office, the design also features a Pneumatic Tube Delivery system that speeds up interaction among hospital staff. There is also a roof garden that is accessible to all patients, most especially to people with disabilities (PWDs) and to the elderly. The walkway in the garden is paved and has ample access ramps for wheelchairs and mobile hospital beds. Research shows that this may decrease anxiety and may help faster recovery of patients.
We made sure that as part of the design, there are elevators for patients coming from the emergency room and operating room so that they will not use the same elevator that the visitors use. Also, we made sure that the patients don’t need to cross the lobby to get to their medical destination. The design also features a Sewage Treatment Plant, a Material Recovery Facility, and a Rainwater Harvesting system.
The role of architecture extends beyond aesthetics; it has the ability to affect behavior of people in a positive way. That is why the architecture and planning of hospitals are integral to the recovery of the patient’s health and wellness. Health is not only physical but also psychological, and it is in this aspect that Architecture fulfills its role.