Collaborating with Spectrum Health Innovations - Part One
In this blog series, students in the Photography program and student writers from the Writing Center explore the ongoing collaboration between Spectrum Health Innovations and students in the Interior Design and Industrial Design Programs.
Part One – The Case for Space: Designing for Mobility
Written by Ashley Newton, Interior Design student
Photos selected by Micheala Faas, Photography student
Exciting things are in the works between Spectrum Health and students from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD). Spectrum Health Innovations (SHI) specializes in identifying and developing solutions to improve both everyday and specialized health care that are, well, innovative. This invites input from diverse sources. SHI’s latest collaboration involves students from KCAD’s Interior Design and Industrial Design programs.
The KCAD students have been tasked with the proposed redesign of the existing patient rooms in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU). The EMU is a dedicated department of at present twelve rooms that support neurodiagnostic testing, which identifies the source of seizure activity in epilepsy patients’ brains. Current technology in EMUs confines patients to their beds, often for several days. They are allowed elsewhere only with the assistance of nurses. Emerging technology aims to increase patients’ mobility and therefore overall comfort. But as seizures are expected with epilepsy patients, safety within the EMU is still the primary concern.
Interior Design senior Amanda Loehle and Industrial Design seniors Justin Beitzel and Xiaoyang Guo are working to create room layouts and furniture designs that can help solve this mobility issue. SHI Clinical Innovations Specialist Kris Emery is especially excited about this project. She describes the students as particularly high functioning, natural leaders, and feels that their talents can have a real impact on the challenges the EMU faces.
“This project has potential beyond redesigning a room; it can change the way we provide care,” says Emery.
(above and below): KCAD students are taking a human-centered approach to the project, working directly with Spectrum Health profesisonals to more deeply understand the problems they're trying to solve
Emery also notes great support from KCAD professors Lee Davis (Interior Design) and Jon Moroney (Industrial Design). Under their guidance, the students have conducted various meetings with concerned parties. An interactive brainstorming session brought together the students, Spectrum Health neurologists Dr. Mohamad Haykal and Dr. Vladimir Shvarts, and other doctors, nurses, and health care professionals serving as ideators and key stakeholders for the project.
The session was developed by the students to understand the various design concerns of both the epileptic patients and those who work in the EMU. One activity involved creating an abstract visual representation of patients’ perceived experience in the unit, while others involved scale model building of the rooms. Participants were asked to conceive of potential improvements to the rooms while disregarding existing constraints to mobility, such as typical hospital beds.
Amanda, Justin, and Xiaoyang will use these insights to work on the project for the remainder of the semester, culminating in a presentation at KCAD in early December. For now, they are eager to continue with this opportunity to use their knowledge in tangible and realistic ways, practicing design as they will upon graduating from KCAD.
“The most valuable thing students get from this is the ability to empathize with a real life patient,” says professor Davis. “It’s a situation that enables them to see the impact of their work.”
Stay tuned to learn more about this exciting collaboration!