“Relatives and friends are the caretakers for patients yet there is no comfort for them. We noticed there was no comfortable area for them to sit and eat at. There is one cafeteria, but it’s too far away,” said National College of Arts textile student Faryal Ehsan.
The space behind the cancer ward at Mayo Hospital was them turned into a dining area for relatives, peons and women who used to eat in the ward kitchen. “The area was called the ‘suicide room’ as relatives used to go there to cry when they heard bad news,” said Sana Waqar, another NCA textile student.
Ehsan and Waqar are part of a 16-member NCA student team which has spent the past four weeks re-designing Mayo Hospital’s cancer ward. Project supervisor Qudsia Rahim said artistic patterns and visual signs were used to improve patients’ response to therapy.
Ehsan added that sharp white light was replaced with warm yellow light which created a relaxed atmosphere.
Komal Faiz, a Communications and Designs student, with Anum Burki from the Fine Arts Department, designed about 20 visual signs.
A moustache was used to signify men, while a dupatta was used for the women. “Twenty of the signs were original. Two or three were taken from the internet,” said Faiz.
“Chemotherapy is about drips and medicines, so we incorporated those visuals,” she said. “I hope incorporating local vocabulary will facilitate visitors.”
Kiran Chaudhary, a fine arts student, with four others, designed the entrance, the waiting area and the corridor. “We used popular local truck art to make patterns,” she said. Those were installed on walls and the ceiling of the waiting area and the entrance.
She said the staff’s input had been used. It took the students four weeks – three to design and take measurements and one for implementation.
Relatives, a student said, would take turns sleeping on a bench at night. Ujala, another student, said this area was next to the bathroom. “It just smelled awful. We demarcated the area and then made changes with the interior. Patients who have seen it have really appreciated our efforts.”
Maqbool Bibi, who has been working at Mayo Hospital for 20 years as a maid, was appreciative of the students’ efforts. “It feels a lot better to work in a cleaner environment.”
Rahim, the project supervisor said, they would monitor the responses of visitors during the next six months to further improve the ward.
“We will try to pick a public hospital every year and plan to improve it.”
BF Biosciences Ltd CEO Osman Waheed, US Consul General Nina Fite, KEMU Vice Chancellor Dr Asad Aslam, and Rodolfo J Martin Saravia, Ambassador of Argentina, were the chief guests at the ward’s inauguration on April 23. BF Biosciences Ltd had provided funding for the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.