Q&A: The Benefits of Wall Protection

WILMINGTON, Del. — To meet increasing health care demands and growing patient needs, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children expanded its Wilmington campus. Completed in late 2014, the 557,000-square-foot expansion included new family-centered patient rooms, enhanced family amenities, collaborative team spaces and a new emergency department with 44 exam rooms.

Houston-based FKP Architects served as the project’s designer and collaborated with Construction Specialties, headquartered in Lebanon, N.J., to develop decorative wall protection panels and artwork to improve the interior spaces. Construction Specialties has provided durable, functional interior wall protection systems for health care facilities for nearly 50 years. The company’s Acrovyn by Design line, a digitally printed product released just months before the start of the hospital expansion product, was featured throughout the patient-occupied areas.

Healthcare Construction + Operations News spoke with Amy DeVore, business development manager for Construction Specialties, about how these adaptable panels are helping to boost morale and improve patient health.

Q: Why is wall protection important for health care facilities?

DeVore: Hospitals receive an extensive amount of traffic. Between patients, visitors, staff, and medical equipment, food carts and cleaning equipment, the walls face heavy abuse on a daily basis. Acrovyn wall protection is not only a functional way to protect the walls in highly traversed areas, but it also supports the facilities’ infection control efforts because it’s easy to clean. Facility maintenance workers love that it offers protection for a long-term investment so they don’t often have to repair walls in a patient-populated atmosphere. Another important reason is that Acrovyn meets Class A fire characteristics.

Q: Can interior design impact patient recovery or morale?

DeVore: Health care in general really has become patient centered. Studies have shown that the patient experience can impact their recovery time; so providing well-designed facilities is definitely helping. It’s why we’re seeing natural light, gardens and play areas incorporated into modern health care design. Health care visits are generally very stressful, so providing a welcoming environment can help patients and visitors feel comfortable which in turn helps to reduce their anxiety.

The selection of calming imagery helps to provide a comfortable, healing environment. Color and fun can be added to make the space more inviting, especially in pediatric areas. With Acrovyn by Design, nearly any photo, color, message, etc., can be used to transform health care environments with feature walls and even full wall murals for a unique creation. The Acrovyn sheet acts as a protective shield not only for the images, but also the walls. So, there are also benefits for the maintenance and cleaning staff when digital wall protection is utilized. Acrovyn by Design also doesn’t off-gas after installation, which can also help patient recovery by eliminating potential sensory triggers.

Q: How can wall protection systems cater specifically to children and teenage patients?

DeVore: Children like seeing children’s artwork, and they can relate to their own artwork. At Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, an art contest was held for local young people. The selected pieces were actually reproduced on Acrovyn by Design. Of course, pediatrics typically range from newborns up to 18 year olds. Facility designers can develop an ideal age-appropriate environment by relying on the experts and professionals who know how to keep colors and age-range broad.

Q: How was the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children project a success?

DeVore: It wasn’t a typical corridor application for wall protection. The children’s artwork was actually installed on patient room doors to create movement and add a little extra ambiance to the facility. The architect and contractor worked well with our internal staff establishing a comfortable, open dialogue. This customer partnership allowed us to be successful as we worked through the final development of the Acrovyn by Design line. We know the facility was very pleased with the outcome.