New paint, flooring, furnishing brighten UTMB waiting areas, lobbies

For immediate release: April 27, 2007

GALVESTON, Texas - Public spaces at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston are undergoing a makeover that will benefit patients, employees and visitors. New paint, new flooring and in some cases new fixtures and furnishings are turning waiting areas and lobbies into brighter, more comfortable spaces.

"We have over $350,000 worth of work being completed in the waiting rooms and lobbies of the hospitals and clinics this fiscal year," said Kim McKay, directory of facilities development and construction. "The projects include flooring, paint, furniture and art work. In addition we have painted the public and exam areas of the Trauma Center and are in progress of painting the Labor and Delivery area as part of our on-going paint program."

The makeover started last year and is expected to be completed by next year, touching virtually every waiting room and public area in UTMB's six hospitals.

Coordinating a unified, strategic approach to public space improvements is the task of the Public Space Team, now in its second year. Cynthia Mann, director of volunteer services, said the group oversees two projects. One is painting, on a three-year cycle. The other project deals with carpet, upholstery, furniture, signage and artwork. Mann said the group prioritizes these according to need.

"Some items will last for several years," she noted. Some highly traveled areas will have carpeting replaced with special long-wearing flooring. Floors in public spaces may be covered with carpeting or vinyl flooring.

Initially, she said, interior managers from UTMB's Facilities and Operations Management team, Juliana Baur, Lynn Carter and Theresa Parker, inspected and took pictures of the hospital. After this survey of facilities, "the hospital administration helped us prioritize," Mann said.

Patients and staff have said "great things" about the projects, she said.

Cheryl Day, director of patient care and assistant chief nursing officer in the Women's, Infants and Children's office, is pleased that the department's staff could give input about colors and styles for furniture and walls in patient rooms and waiting rooms.

"This enhances the staff's pride and commitment to providing care in a space that mirrors the same level of care, concern and thoughtfulness" as the patient care they deliver," Day said.

Criticism also had a role to place in the learning process. Karen Sexton, UTMB's vice-president and CEO of hospitals and clinics, said, "We want an environment that is pleasing to our patients and families and provides a better workplace for our staff. I think renewed commitment to our hospital's appearance is a welcomed one, but after I received a complaint about the new paint color on (John Sealy Hospital's) second floor, I was curious about it since the new paint plan was supposed to be a good thing, and the color used was the same as used before in the same area for months without complaint. So, I decided to poll individuals in the area, including visitors and staff, to see what I could learn."

"What I heard was a range of responses, from ‘It will look great when finished' to ‘The color is terrible. Why did we do it?'" she said.

It didn't take long for her to discover the problem. "I learned that it had more to do with the clash between the old wall guard color and the new paint color," she said. "The plan has always been to replace the wall guard with a coordinating color but, unfortunately, the paint job was completed before the new wall guards arrived. We have now learned not to do this. It is imperative that we get it right and generate positive perceptions, not negative ones."

As a result, Sexton said, "In the future, we will do both the painting and the accessorizing at the same time. I think we can avoid any negative energy around changes that are meant to be positive ones. All in all, I found both our staff and visitors excited that we were actively addressing the esthetics of our hospital."

Public space teams include:

Hospital administration - Mann; Richard McFee, assistant vice-president for operations; David Marshall, assistant vice-president for patient care and chief nursing officer; Michael Hill, assistant vice-president for operations and ancillary services; and Raymond Brouillard, executive assistant to the vice-president and CEO.
Clinics - Christine Keating, executive director for hospitals and clinics; Jesse Seelbach, operations projects/plan manager; and Casey Peterson, director of clinical operations.
FOAM - McKay, David Ketchens, director of facilities operations; Paul Gonzales, facility operations manager; Jerry Crow, facility operations manager; and Baur.
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144