Many hospitals today offer specialized services for women, spanning the lifetime of the patient. Women’s services are big business.
More than any other department, OB is a major marketing arm for the facility. This is because most women have a choice of where they will deliver, and because those same women also determine the healthcare provider for the rest of their family.
Figurative art is a frequently used style of art in OB areas. Socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic factors determine which images will impart the right messages and which will not. In a poor rural hospital, for example, a new mother would probably not feel as comfortable with images of wealthy mothers and babies as she might with images that she can identify with on a more personal socio-economic level.
There are many figurative works available today that portray all races and socio-economic groups. Tasteful use of such pieces suggests that the hospital embraces and cares about the people that they serve. What we need to do when specifying art is to carefully assess the background of the patient to understand what best serves the facility.
Figurative work can be used successfully in the education component that is a part of the modern OB practice. I developed an art program for a large women’s services facility in south Texas. This facility was seeing patients whose average age of first delivery was sixteen. They were still children themselves. Images of maternal bonding, the nuclear family, and the role of the father were used as messages to new parents to better prepare them for the future of their families.
There are certain areas in OB, however, where I do not recommend the use of figurative work. One is a neo-natal area. Because of uncertain medical outcomes, images of beautiful babies and happy families may be a dream that may not come true. Dignified, serene non-figurative images are a much more appropriate choice for neo-natal areas. The second area is patient rooms when there are not designated rooms for women who must cope with fetal or infant demise.
In general, women are more likely to use a hospital’s services on a more frequent basis during their entire lifetime than men, particularly for the diagnostic services that are part of a health maintenance program.Choose artwork for these areas that is of general interest to women of varying ages.
Don’t assume that because the viewer is female that the art should be stereotyped in its content. Nearly fifty percent of the work force today is female. In general, I think that today’s woman expects to be addressed as if she is an informed and intelligent consumer regardless of age.