Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Creating an Environment for Healing

Through the years, Grinnell Regional Medical Center has worked toward creating an environment that allows the greatest potential for healing for both patients and families. At GRMC, this includes services such as animal-assisted therapy, music therapy, massage, and spiritual care.

It also includes physical space such as the Mitchell Meditation Room and the Healing Garden. When the need for a new chemotherapy and infusion space was identified, GRMC teamed up with architect Kevin White and Lee Emma Running, artist and associate professor of art at Grinnell College, to design this new department. 

The result is a beautiful and open space with a clean design. The room is flooded with natural light and botanical imagery. Running worked with White from the beginning to provide input on the design of the space, the color scheme, lighting, flooring, and other materials.

This was a unique opportunity to develop the art as an integral component of the project. By working with White from the beginning, Running was able to consider the entire space in the project’s development. She created the environment knowing the mission and purpose of the space.

 “We are constantly looking for ways in which we can increase positive outcomes for our patients,” says Todd C. Linden, GRMC president and CEO.  “We know that an environment that supports healing and maintaining or restoring wellness for our patients, their families, and our employees is important to their experience. This new space is extraordinary and unique.”

Running created an art installation entitled, “Hydrangea Variations” that uses hydrangea flowers as their primary motif. The space is entered through a hallway lined with a 200-foot dimensional mural of painted flowers and hand-cut silhouettes. This dimensional mural creates an interplay of object, light, paint and shadow. The imagery continues inside the waiting room, and into patient spaces where the windows are etched with delicate floral patterns, suggesting an unseen botanical element from beyond the room.

“This is a great example of what art can do,” says Running. “The space is the art. Because of the natural light, the patterns of the silhouettes and shadows are different depending on the time of day, which adds another layer of interest to the space.”


Grinnell Regional Medical Center is a community hospital located in the town of Grinnell, in east central Iowa. GRMC is a private, non-profit and non-tax supported medical center, serving more than 40,000 residents in a six-county rural area of central Iowa. A 49-bed hospital with 50 physicians and allied healthcare professionals, 300 employees, and more than 300 volunteers, GRMC provides an array of services from birth to end-of-life. Specialties include primary care in family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, and general surgery, as well as specialists in anesthesiology, bariatrics/weight loss surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, pain management, pathology, podiatry, psychiatry, radiology, and urology. Visiting specialists in 11 areas provide additional specialty care for area residents.

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