DAVID CITY, Neb. — Hospitals are always searching for new ways to create a positive patient experience. One of the latest trends being popularized in health care environments is creating a connection to nature and the outdoors using windows and natural daylight that enhance the healing environment. The new wellness center at Butler County Health Care Center in David City worked with SageGlass to add these enhancements to help encourage a healthy lifestyle for patients and the surrounding community.
“It’s not just about patching them up and getting them out, it’s about patching them up and giving them a healthy lifestyle and make this an ongoing thing,” said Betsy Podbelski, project manager for the Butler County Health Care Center and part of architectural solutions at SageGlass, a Fairbault, Minn.-based window glass developer.
Over the past several years, creating a more natural environment through the use of glass has become important to health care facilities. Many believe that a connection to nature can significantly impact the healing process. “We all know there are benefits of connection to the outdoors and the connection to nature,” said Podbelski. “If you’re doing rehab because of something that happened to you or something going on in your life, to be able to look out that window and be looking at the trees and looking at the little kids playing on the playground — I don’t think you can underestimate the power of that, just to your psyche.”
Not only does introducing more natural light benefit the patients in their rehabilitation efforts, but it also provides energy and cost savings to the hospital, according to Derek Malmquist, vice president of marketing for SageGlass. The abundance of glass provides increased energy efficiency and reduced HVAC requirements.
The use of electrochromic glass has been gaining momentum as hospitals continue to install more glass walls. This glass allows hospitals to program the windows to tint on demand or follow the path of the sun. It eliminates the need for blinds or curtains and is helpful for maintenance and cleanliness — two major concerns within the health care sector. The glass also prevents employees from having to adjust the blinds and shades as the sun moves.
Butler County Health Care Center installed SageGlass, an electrochromic glass, to its new wellness center, which is used by both hospital patients and the surrounding community. The architect on the wellness center project was Lincoln, Neb.-based Visions in Architecture.
The glass for the project was installed on the south-facing end of the hospital in the form of a 22-foot tall, 3,000-square-foot curved glass curtainwall. Because the wall was so large, installing a product that could tint the glass as needed based on sun sensors was a way for the facility to save energy costs while still providing an open space.
A walking track in the facility is located next to the glass, so providing a comfortable space for exercise where the sun would not produce too much heat was important to the facility, according to Podbelski. Officials also wanted the health center to provide a connection to the outdoor space, so it was important for patients or community members to be able to look outside from inside the wellness center as they’re working, exercising or participating in rehabilitation.
Over the past several years, health care facilities have shown more interest in using this type of glass in their facilities, and Malmquist said that’s only going to continue. Facilities such as the Memphis VA Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., and the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colo., have also recently installed SageGlass to bring the outside in for their patients.