I have such loving memories of the scruffy, worn-down Womens Hospital in Carlton, which has moved to a new building. I had two babies, and lost two pregnancies there. Despite the ageing and creaky building, the staff were wondrous, especially the midwives. Driving past, I’d squint up the boxy building to try to guess which windows I’d been behind.
A week ago, something terrible happened to a member of our family, and so I had occasion to visit the new, you-beaut Womens Hospital in Parkville. I walked up the wide, easily accessible ramp (tick!) to the beautiful, spacious lobby (tick!) where an information section was easy to find (tick!) and found the person I was looking for in minutes.
It’s really a stunning building, and although, to me, the Women’s will always be about the staff, they now have the comfortable and beautiful working environment which they deserve. The patients and the friends and relatives who wait anxiously there benefit, too.
It’s just a shame about all the artwork. Not hanging pictures, which I was too preoccupied to notice, but the stuff that’s right up in your face: Environmental graphics, I think, is the correct term for what I’m talking about.
The new RWH features giant frosted-glass murals on the large exterior windows as you walk towards the entrance. This mural shows a younger blonde woman and a slightly older blonde woman. This is hardly a serious effort to fulfil the contractors’ brief, to portray a “broad demographic of age and culture”.
There were smaller murals on the wall facing the lifts, which were impossible to ignore for anybody entering or leaving any part of the building. These murals featured new mums and dads holding babies. Happy, happy, happy.
Although these murals are lovely and fulfil the diversity brief a little better than the one at the entrance, they completely fail the requirement to be “sensitive to the individual needs of patients and their supporters.”
Not everybody leaves the RWH with a live birth. Our family member would have had to walk past those murals as she left the hospital for the car park.
Women come to the hospital to have babies. They also come there to lose their passionately wanted babies, to have abortions, with cancer, with gynaecological troubles, with infertility.
Abstract, rather than figurative, environmental graphics would seem to be the way to go for an environment like this. The new RWH is beautiful and comfortable, but as triggery as all hell.