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Trumbull News Detail

Momentum Builds for New Program in Health Care Facilities

Posted Aug. 1, 2013
Hillcrest-Hospital

Shaping the future of health care through building design is the aim of the new Graduate Certificate in Health Care Facilities.  The two-sided program, launched just under a year ago, benefits those with a health care background, but no grounding in facilities, as well as those with design and facilities knowledge, but little experience in health care.
 
Appropriate for professionals and master’s students in architecture, interior design, health care and public health, the fully online graduate certificate is a unique way to gain expertise in a specialty area with high market demand.
 
The certificate program was jointly developed by the College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED), the College of Public Health and the College of Nursing.  Enrollment began last fall, and program coursework is drawn from all three colleges.  With 20 required credit hours, the program can be completed in one year with full-time enrollment, and the flexible curriculum facilitates part-time enrollment as well.
 
“Professionals across architecture, nursing and public health are concerned about environments, both in care facilities and communities, that make an impact in care delivery and save money and lives in the long run,” says Jonathan VanGeest, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management, who supported the new program’s development.  “The certificate is extremely relevant to all three disciplines and allied fields,” he adds.
 
“The intent is to foster learning from multiple viewpoints, including patient care, environmental health and physical, psychological and even cultural perspectives,” observes Douglas Steidl, dean, CAED.  “However, the program also focuses on the facility aspects of health delivery and how this specifically influences both quality of care and efficiency of providing that care,” he adds.
 
The architecture classes explore emerging trends and the latest technology regarding the functional, regulatory, aesthetic and financial aspects of health care facility design.  The nursing and public health courses concentrate on health care terminology, concepts, culture, relationships and underlying principles.
 
“Most certainly, the certificate taken as a whole provides invaluable expertise, but all master’s students should consider these courses – the cross-disciplinary content will absolutely help them better understand how to maximize efficiency of treatment and quality of patient care,” says Steidl.
 
“Disease control is not limited to hospitals and their locations,” Steidl observes.  “Students in these courses learn how the physical environment generates disease and also how facilities can combat disease.  For example, staircases used to be a focal point in grand old buildings.  They handled the flow and were attractive, but elevators and purely utilitarian stair towers for fire escape became the standard.  Having stairs is now a health consideration in the physical environment, because taking stairs has cardiovascular benefits,” Steidl says.
 
“Architecture practices in Northeast Ohio are clamoring for us to provide education in health care facilities,” says Steidl.  “Just look at our region.  We have exceptionally strong local health care providers, and with Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, we have global institutions,” he remarks.  “Many local firms attribute some 50 percent of revenues to health care design and want their professionals to have a greater knowledge in this field,” he explains.
 
VanGeest agrees.  “Both the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) have identified the intersection of public health and architecture/urban planning as increasingly important, an opportunity for innovation and a growing sector of the economy,” he advises.
 
 
In addition to the graduate certificate program, CAED is planning to offer a Master of Health Care Design degree for those holding an undergraduate degree in architecture or interior/environmental design.  This degree, pending approval by the Ohio Board of Regents, will begin with the online courses required for the graduate certificate and culminate in a studio capstone project.  “The intent is to look at ways to improve health care and to more efficiently deliver those services through facility design.  It will be the only degree of its kind in Ohio,” says Steidl.