OHS Redecorates Exam Rooms to Educate Patients

By Madison Reeley, WHK Student Intern; images by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer
A display about healthy eating in the health-themed room

A display about healthy eating and flyers about bodily health in the general health–themed exam room

Occupational Health Services interns are educating patients during their visits via updated exam rooms that now display health-related “themes” like cancer, general health, mental health, and travel safety. They hope the vibrant designs and intriguing facts they’ve displayed will attract attention and benefit patients.

The first door, with a yellow and teal “health is wealth” sign and a photo collage of ways to stay healthy, leads the patient to the general health–themed room. Inside, nine vividly bright orange and yellow flyers display ways to maintain bodily health, like how to track nutrition and the consequences of doing drugs. Other helpful tips for staying healthy are scattered around the room.

The interns—Madelyn Hurwitz, Smruti Hariprakasha, and Nicole Pohida—tried to keep their tips simple and general so that the information would be useful for everyone. For example, some of the tips for physical activity are to set realistic goals, start small and increase activity gradually, and seek support from friends and family.

Back in the corridor, a poster with the words “The best protection is early detection” in scrolling font hangs in the entryway to the cancer-themed room. Opening the door reveals a “library” theme with posters, flyers, and brochures dedicated to cancer education.

Patients and visitors are welcome to take any of the four brochures made by the interns. Each deals with a different cancer topic. For instance, “Fast Facts About Cancer” offers information that everyone should know, including a definition of cancer along with information about cancer cells, a description of different treatments, and a few tips to limit susceptibility.

In addition to the brochures, patients can gather information by reading around the room. There are maps that estimate the number of new cancer patients within the United States, graphs that depict trends in cancer deaths, and flyers that inform patients about age-related cancer screenings. The flyers list many of the more common forms of cancer and the best times to get tested for them. For example, women should start getting yearly mammograms by age 45 to check for breast cancer.

The third exam room provides patients with more diverse reading. Its theme is a unique combination of mental health and travel safety. On the mental health side, flyers describe some of the most common and misunderstood mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, and also offer definitions, symptoms, and treatments.

The interns thought it was important to educate people about mental health, as there is a stigma around the subject. According to them, it is crucial to clarify the facts and eliminate any myths about mental disorders.

“Promoting wellness is one of our main goals at OHS,” said Pohida, “so we decided that it was a good idea to educate our patients so they can keep themselves well.”

Flyers about safe travel are also spread around the room. There are tips about what to do when preparing to travel, like getting immunized, as well as information about diseases prevalent outside of the United States, like the Zika virus.

“OHS student interns partnered to develop health themes that paralleled the CDC’s scorecard for the healthiest business and raised health awareness for the employees,” said Sarah Hooper, advisor for the OHS interns and manager of OHS. “Their idea was very clever, they did a great job executing it.”

Prostate cancer is one of many subjects addressed in the cancer-themed room. The interns even decorated the rooms’ windowsills—in this case, with a display about body fat and body mass index. Another section of the cancer-themed room focuses on oral cancers and smoking.