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Healing art: Sioux Center hospital features regional artwork

Healing art: Sioux Center hospital features regional artwork


SIOUX CENTER, Iowa | During a four-hour shift greeting wandering patients, a hospital volunteer takes in the soothing sights of flowers, greens and grasslands spread across six screens.

The digital art wall in the entryway gives a glimpse of more than 175 regional artworks gracing the waiting rooms and hallways of Sioux Center Health. The new 123,500 square-foot facility opened May 22.

Arnie Koekkoek watched workers install the high-tech display. “I kidded they should put in ESPN for me, but they didn’t do that,” he said. An avid iris grower, Koekkoek appreciates the 40 prairie scenes that change on the checkered panel.

A committee sought proposals from artists within 100 miles of Sioux Center. More than 500 pieces within 58 portfolios poured in. The ones selected elicit a sense of calm, comfort and familiarly to create a homelike atmosphere throughout the Avera network hospital.

“The arts are part of a healing environment,” CEO Kayleen Lee said.

Like a growing number of medical centers being built and renovated, Sioux Center Health incorporated patient-centered design concepts. The evidence-based approach examines the link between a hospital’s surroundings and the well-being of staff and patients.

“Patient-centered design involves looking at all the elements of the healthcare environment through the eyes of the patient, as well as their family members, rather than just from the clinical perspective,” said Anne DiNardo, senior editor of Healthcare Design magazine. “It focuses on design elements that can help put a patient at ease, reduce stress levels and allow them to focus on healing.”

The Samuel Oschin Cancer Center in Los Angeles reported increased patient and employee satisfaction following a renovation of its facility to include plants, natural lighting, warm wall colors, comfortable furniture and nature-inspired artwork.

In another case study, the radiology department at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC partnered with GE and the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee to develop the Adventure Series, which aims to reduce anxiety in pediatric patients through themed rooms and multi-sensory distractions rather than sedation.

Murals, music and imaging machines disguised as spaceships promote child-friendly procedures.

The design team for Sioux Center Health found inspiration in Psalm 23, focusing on the verdant pastures, still waters and restoration of the soul. The artwork selected reflects that passage as well as other aspects of the northwest Iowa community.

Walking the corridors, you’ll see pictures of ponds, streams and waterfalls, along with scenes that capture rural life – cows, barns, grain bins, rolling hills and even pig wrestling at the Sioux County Fair.

The maternity wing features portraits of the first six babies born at the new facility.

“Meaningful artwork is an important part of the aesthetics, just as much as a pleasing color palette and comfortable furniture, and can provide a positive distraction for patients during their stay and a sense of calm and comfort in an otherwise stressful setting,” DiNardo said.

Jo Alberda, volunteer art coordinator for Sioux Center Health, and CEO Kayleen Lee took cues from the neighboring facility to establish certain design elements.

The Prairie Center, a five-story building that houses the Avera Cancer Institute and the Avera Surgery Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., has indoor gardens, waterfalls and an extensive original art collection meant to inspire dignity, courage and hope.

The new $48.5 million hospital on the edge of Sioux Center implemented plants, plenty of natural sunlight, an earth tone color palette, a donated grand piano and a peaceful healing garden outside.

It also showcases the talents of 22 regional artists.

“Art has been very intentional in our hospital,” Alberda said.

The retired art professor works with painters and photographers to keep two areas updated.

The community art wall, located in the lower level Garden Café, will feature works by regional artists and rotate on a regular basis. Right now, Alberda’s hand-dyed, quilted fabric collages hang in the dining area.

She also plans to periodically bring in new batches of photos for the digital art wall with themes such as water, hands at work, children at play and cathedrals of the plains – grain elevator towering over little towns – giving Arnie Koekkoek and other hospital volunteers a change of scenery within the halls of Sioux Center Health.


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