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Nature therapy isn't virtual at DHMC

Think of a lazy day on a sandy beach or the serenity of a mountaintop meadow—just the thought is restorative. That concept is now being used to help hospitalized patients find relief from pain and anxiety. Over 50 hospitals across the country have hung "Bedscapes" in their patient rooms—four-foot photomurals of tropical beaches and mountain streams.

At top is the Web site for the virtual version of hospital nature therapy, and at bottom is the real thing—the view from a DHMC room.
Room photo: Jon Gilbert Fox

At DHMC, however, patients don't need a "Bedscape"— they are fortunate to enjoy the real thing. Each patient tower on the north end of the Medical Center was built with 36 sides, so every patient room has a view of the outdoors—mostly pinecovered hillsides. But in urban hospitals and nursing homes, Bedscapes are increasingly popular, turning cubicle curtains into calming, healing environments.

Does the concept really work? Studies have shown that humans' innate response to nature is to relax. This appears to be true with Bedscapes as well. At Johns Hopkins Hospital, researchers tested Bedscapes in a randomized controlled study of 80 patients undergoing flexible bronchoscopy; the patients in the Bedscapes group reported significantly less pain. Preliminary results from a similar study at Beth Israel Medical Center showed that patients exposed to Bedscapes had significantly lower levels of stress while awaiting cardiac catheterization.

Yosaif August, CEO of Bedscapes International, introduced his invention in 1996. But DHMC beat him to implementing the concept; its Lebanon facility—with real rather than virtual views of beautiful scenery—opened in 1991. M.C.W.

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