When you think of a healthcare facility or hospital, the type of window coverings used may not always be top of mind. When it comes to commercial blinds and shades, those used in the places that we tend to feel the most vulnerable require a bit more consideration than those used in an office, retail, or hospitality environment. From lobbies and waiting rooms, exam and surgical areas, and rooms that are shared between patients, the types of window treatments used are not left to chance but rather are selected because they fulfill a very specific need.
Lobbies & Waiting Rooms
While hospitals and healthcare facilities tend to be viewed as cold, clinical places, this sentiment doesn’t always extend to the public spaces of these facilities. If you haven’t noticed on a previous visit, the décor of many waiting areas is designed to make the patient and their loved ones feel at ease and welcome. They do this by promoting a great deal of natural light, installing comfortable furniture, and opting for curtains that tend to invoke a sense of calm by mimicking all the comforts of home. Naturally, the window treatments paired most commonly with curtains in these environments will aim to maximize this comfort more than anything else, which is why you tend to see roller shades in these spaces quite frequently. Not only do they let in just the right amount of natural light so as to reduce glare and heat, they can also help to keep the temperature in the lobby cool and comfortable, and reduce heating and cooling costs
Medical Rooms & Surgical Suites
Many exams rooms don’t have windows but those that do tend to steer clear of the curtains used so prominently in waiting rooms and lobbies, primarily because of hygiene. Many people pass through exam rooms on a daily basis and while steps are taken to keep the space sanitary between patients, fabric curtains tend to harbor dust, allergens, and airborne bacteria – all things that cannot be dealt with unless they are stripped down and laundered on a daily basis. For even the smallest facilities, this is cost prohibitive; therefore, it simply makes sense to install window coverings that are easy to disinfect when required.
Typically, in exam rooms that have windows, you’ll find window coverings like vertical or mini blinds installed. They provide the necessary privacy when required and don’t tend to hold on to the microscopic items referenced above. As an unwritten rule, surgical rooms tend to not have windows altogether as these tend to be a viable access point for germs. In these spaces, sterility is of the utmost importance.
It should be noted here that while metallic blinds are a standard in exam rooms, their use is not a universal standard. Some commercial fabrics are made with antimicrobial qualities that help in the fight against the transmission of germs and illness. If you work in, or oversee a healthcare facility and you’re considering going the route of using fabrics in your exams rooms, make sure that they are manufactured to meet the ASTM G21 standard at the very least. Additionally, there are other certifications that also identify a material as possessing antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, such as: Microban, Greenguard Mold and Bacteria Stans ASTM 6329, amongst others.
Double Occupancy Rooms and Psychiatric Facilities
In many facilities, double occupancy rooms are separated using a privacy curtain. These are typically made with a versatile fabric, often being flame retardant and containing antimicrobial properties. They hold up well to regular washing and are specifically designed for use in healthcare facilities. Their colours are usually calming, but otherwise their aesthetic is fairly utilitarian.
When it comes to psychiatric facilities, the purpose of curtains is quite different. A therapist may install thick, heavy drapes to bolster a room’s natural soundproofing qualities and to make their patients feel comfortable and safe.
The next time you visit your doctor’s office or a hospital, your dentist or your therapist, pay particular attention to the commercial window treatments in use. You might be surprised at just how varied they are from one room to the next. If you’re in the market for new window treatments for your healthcare facility, there’s no shortage of styles and fabrics from which you can choose.