Conquering anxiety and apprehension at the Anchorage VA Outpatient Clinic

Art and architecture designed to put Veterans at ease


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At Veterans Health Administration, we are continually seeking new therapeutic techniques to help our Veteran patients succeed, which is why we are excited about the art and architecture at the Anchorage Outpatient Clinic.

The facility, which opened in 2010, aims to utilize the architecture of the building itself, as well as the décor and artwork as a therapeutic tool to help patients feel more relaxed and comfortable about visiting a health care facility. Millions of people are nervous about visiting a hospital, so VHA wanted to create a space that “brings the outside in” (after all, it is Alaska). “Light and space are the central characteristics of the new building,” says the Alaska Star.

And from architecture firm SmithGroupJJR: “The exterior of glass window wall, composite zinc-and-wood panels, and concrete masonry projects a sturdy, warm and visually welcoming image. A two-story, light-filled lobby features rich stone and wood under a tree-form roof structure, recalling natural forms.

“Insulated against the cold climate, the extensive glazing is a way to communicate openness and transparency, helping patients navigate the building and making a strong connection to the land with dramatic mountain views. During short winter days, the glass also makes the most of precious daylight.”

For convenience, the two-story clinic locates most clinical services on the first floor, with specialty clinics on the second. Where external views aren’t available, art created by local Veterans and their families is. One of them — “Ribbons of Honor” — represents each of the five branches of service with their service ribbons.

Recent research conducted by Concordia University student Cheryl Miller suggests that art therapy can be beneficial in helping Vets overcome post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “Individuals with PTSD often have difficulty verbalizing their feelings,” Miller said. “Art therapy can complement other types of treatment for PTSD, because it provides an alternative to verbal expression.”

We hope this facility fosters a sense of warmth and welcoming throughout our facility, while encouraging expression among our Alaska Veterans.

Join VHA and be at the forefront of new therapeutic techniques. Learn more about how you can get involved at our Anchorage facility here!

Author

Dan Green