Creating Peace in the Emergency Department
Kim Wenger Hall completes a mural in DHMC's "Quiet Room"
In the Spring of 2016, local artist Kim Wenger Hall was commissioned by Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to transform the “Quiet Room” in the Behavioral Health Hallway of the hospital.
The Quiet Room, completed in the Summer of 2016, serves as a safe, low-stimulus area for patients who may have an emergency psychiatric condition. Kim was asked to make the room warmer and more patient-friendly with a mural. As a past employee of DHMC, she jumped at the chance to help others with her art.
Before starting the project Kim spent time researching the clinical aspects of aesthetics. She found that soft, muted colors that covered the entire space and felt familiar would help to offer the right amount of stimulus for patients. Kim explains, “I developed a neutral composition of New England mountains and lakes. The result was a soft, realistic mural done in soothing violets, blues, and greens.”
I reached out to Karen Clements, Chief Nursing Officer at DHMC, who commissioned Kim, to answer a few questions about the project.
Q: What was your original thinking when the Quiet Room was built - did your vision include a mural?
I previously built a Behavior Health Hallway in the last Emergency department I led. We actually did murals, done by staff, in all 3 of our rooms. It made an immediate impact to patients and decreased anxiety, destruction of the room itself, and presented a calming place to receive care. The rooms are built and designed to be ‘stark’ or bare which leads to a very cold, harsh environment. Kim did an amazing job bringing a softness and calming atmosphere to this space.
Q: How did you choose Kim for the mural?
Her husband is a nursing leader in the ED and heard wind of my interest. Ta-da!!
Q: Who else was involved in this project, I.E. funding, support, materials?
I worked with the Psychiatry and Emergency Department leadership, Charities, the Auxiliary and the Arts program.
Q: Any other remarks?
Mental health resources have dwindled steadily forcing patients to seek acute psychiatric care in emergency departments all across the country. We are very fortunate to have a safe space that is designed for the safety of the patients and the staff. I am so appreciative of the work that Kim did to make it a healing atmosphere for patients spending many hours in the ED.
Kim Wenger Hall’s art can also be found around various location at DHMC.