Minutes, hours, days, weeks or years. These are the time intervals that a person can spend in the hospital and vary depending on whether the visit is to a medical center: consultation, outpatient surgery or recovery after an operation. Sometimes endless moments are spent walking along long corridors, sitting in inhospitable rooms or sharing rooms with other patients. “Hospitals are becoming more humane,” says Patricio Martínez, founder of the PMMT studio, focused on the architecture of medical centers.
The humanization of health care would happen for many Spaniards because the surgical waiting list would be reduced or for others, the doctor would be able to see their family as soon as possible. However, this concept goes further and is already in the role of a certain health ministry. Approaches from various approaches: from medical care, to the management of support or simply to the construction of the hospital itself.
“A few years ago my father was admitted to the amphitheater in the hospital that overlooked the sea,” explains Martínez. “It was an incredible view, but between the screen, the bathroom and we were closed without that window,” he adds. There, this architect, the light bulb went on and together with the team they created the concept of “empathic room”. Half a year of work in the R&D department, which ended with the solution “to change those rooms with a minimum of resources and to allow patients to see the sea”, explains the engineer. “Healing is based on caring and caring. Now he is healed, but he is not taken care of and he understood the xenodochi,” Martínez adds.
This is becoming more and more the case, as more studies show that between 60 and 70% of our health is closely linked to our environment. The figures also support a report from the 1980s published in the journal Science which showed that patients who had views of the green hospital room stayed in the hospital for less time and needed less medication. But “this goes further.” “It has to do with emotions, with what you feel and feel when you come.”
Lead to “humanization”
With this premise, PMMT was born in 2006 under the signature of Patricio Martínez and Maximià Torruella. The study focused on hospitals and humanization, although “human architecture is like cooking with flavor”, the founders maintain. “Architecture humanizes the environment so that people can use it in the best conditions, which is what happens when we lose focus,” he adds.
That’s why they’re working on a guide that “will arrive in the summer,” say the two architects. “To ensure the humaneness of the architecture of health and social care buildings, projects must be implemented to favor the connection, empathy and dignity of the people who inhabit them,” explains Martínez. He advises three ideas that “should be dealt with more humanely in planning.” Coherent projects from the order of the spaces, the color of the walls and even the smell of the facilities. “It’s not putting plants or making the hospital accessible, it’s much more complicated and that’s why we installed these three carriers,” he explains.
The color of the walls “makes the space more beautiful and not more ugly, but also makes it safe and avoids the patient with fear.” Although it is not only that “the material of construction is also the strength” warns. “We often use products that are harmful to health,” he warns.
A detail with a symbolic appearance, but one that has importance in the patient’s experience. “Increasingly, hospitals want to offer a better service and they feel better cared for, because they all offer the same service and this also through the architecture,” answers Martínez. “To understand you through spaces, how beautiful or ugly they are, you have to see that they are empathetic to the patient,” he advises.
Spaces designed under the prism of humanization differ from traditional hospital centers “where you can go to a consultation and find a patient in an operating room,” says Martínez. These meet with trees, large spaces and lots of light.
It is a brief summary of the PMMT project at Nova Clínica de Girona, a project that updates and strengthens the hospital’s services over more than 80 years of history. The following infrastructure defines versatile parameters, with the aim of adapting to changes in its distribution in the course of medical and technological progress. “Doctors and scientists heal, but we help with this healing.”