One of the many ways The Center for Health Design works to make research and practical tools accessible is through the creation of Topic Toolboxes. We’ve produced more than a dozen of these toolboxes on both micro and macro issues, relating to everything from technology to emergency department throughput. Each toolbox contains a wide array of resources to fit every learning style, such as issue briefs, executive summaries, webinars, industry expert interviews, and design strategies. Within each toolbox, some of the resources are open to all and then some are available only to Affiliate+ members.

Creating easy access to the research and resources that design and healthcare professionals need to make informed decisions has never been more important than during this last year. Thanks to a partnership with industrial supply company Grainger, all of the resources in the Safety Toolbox are being made available to everyone until the end of this year.

Poorly designed and operated healthcare environments can contribute to harm associated with adverse events such as healthcare-associated infections, medication errors, injury from patient handling, self-harm, violence against others, security breaches, and falls. Designing for safe environments is complex and requires a systems approach. One needs to understand that a combination of organizational factors, people, and the environment must all be considered to create safe environments. The Center’s Safety Toolbox looks at six risk components that impact healthcare settings and provides design considerations for the built environment that may contribute to improved safety for users including staff, patients, families, and visitors.

Inside the Safety Toolbox, users will find executive summaries or background pieces on issues such as understanding injury risk factors in behavioral and mental health settings, preventing injuries and increasing safety among older adults, and incorporating a systems approach to improving hand hygiene. Videos and interviews that address patient safety from multiple vantage points also are included. Two research-related webinars look at security implications, one related to psychiatric units and another related to emergency department design. A set of design strategies for reducing injury and harm in behavioral and mental health settings offers insights into site optimization, building envelope, building layout, unit and room layout, interior finishes, furnishings, and even technology. All of our toolboxes can also be accessed from The Center’s homepage, either through the main navigation bar under “Topics” or through the “Moving Healthcare Forward” feature.

Closely tied to The Center’s toolbox work is our involvement with the Facility Guidelines Institute’s Emergency Conditions Guidelines. Three Center employees sit on this guidelines committee and have been working to addresses the full range of emergencies and disasters that could impact a healthcare facility. The document, now available for download on the FGI website ( is available for public comment until June 30.

I’d also like to remind readers that the deadline for submissions to the Healthcare Environment Awards competition is July 9. The program, a partnership with Healthcare Design magazine, is open to built, in-process, or conceptual projects. More information can be found on The Center’s website ( under the “What’s New” section. I’m excited to see and celebrate the 2021 class of award winners this October in Cleveland at the Healthcare Design Expo & Conference.

Debra Levin is president and CEO of The Center for Health Design. She can be reached at