“American, and pro-o-o-u-d of it!”

So goes the TV commercial for a local Cleveland car dealer who all but trips over the United States flag as he struts about his bright, shiny new car lot. The knee-jerk reaction to this can be twofold: warm commendation from those who think a little chest thumping is good for the soul, or a cringing shake of the head from those who see this as inane flag-waving. I would submit that, when it comes to healthcare design, there is another way: an expression of true pride in America without loss of perspective or humility.

You will see the reasons in this, our second international edition of HEALTHCARE DESIGN. In preparing it we noted a number of projects displayed here (and some that, regrettably, we didn’t have room for but will publish soon in regular issues) expressing a desire to emulate and at least match American standards of design. Even in areas of the world where American popularity can be described as “sketchy,” to put it mildly (i.e., some areas of the Middle East), we find acceptance of and admiration for American-style new facilities. This could well be, in part, a reflection of the number of native physicians who trained in the United States and saw that, in terms of patient comfort, safety, and access to technology, modern American hospitals are difficult to surpass.

But the attitudes expressed go even further. Sponsors of overseas healthcare projects say they want, in many instances, not only to match American standards, but to exceed them. Starting, as many are, with virtually a “blank slate,” they are working to incorporate innovations that some American facilities are only dreaming about—for example, truly “paperless” information technology; adaptation of “green” approaches to natural lighting and ventilation; and spaces encouraging of large family involvement and, if families are so inclined, of religious expression.

In these cases, the American- (and British)-trained physicians are saying, “We have grown accustomed to and like Western-style medicine, but we wish to make our facilities both more modern and more personal at the same time.”

I, for one, find it gratifying that our country has inspired such efforts. Some would say this is all a legacy of better times, when America really was held in high esteem by people throughout the world. Perhaps our country still is viewed in this way, but it just isn’t so obvious. In any event, we hope that what we see here is a gift that keeps on giving—and one of the truly sound reasons for American pride. HD


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