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ON ANCIENT GREEKS + WHOLE PERSON CARE | 2500 Years Of Medicine

Healthcare has always been a big part of the American news cycle. The pandemic has made it the lead story for over a year and half, both in media and in our personal lives. While many parts of the system have been recently criticized, there have also been uplifting stories about people and places doing it right.


In a recent article contextualizing innovations in the health care space, our partners at Haworth put it well: “Humans are resilient beings who have the capacity to learn and grow from change. Buildings, however, are a different story.” They go on to explore the role of health facilities, flexibility in addressing crisis, and future-proofing spaces through technology. All good things; as modern humans we’ve become accustomed to innovation driving practice.


Which brings us to… Ancient Greece. (Wait- what? Stay with me.)


The basic tenets of the Hippocratic oath, a vow taken by doctors, are known to most, especially the ubiquitous “First, do no harm.” This is a loose translation of the spirit of the oath, which has endured since Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, is attributed with putting quill to papyrus sometime in 5th century B.C Greece.


Seems… pretty basic. We would indeed hope that our health care providers would do no harm, but at the time, such an oath was revolutionary. While it has survived over centuries as the guiding principle of medicine, there is another quote from Hippocrates, one that resonates today in ways the good Greek doctor could not have predicted.


“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.”


The health care industry of today is leaning in to this notion in new and unexplored ways. That the changes we’re experiencing as patients are influenced by Hippocrates might be a hard line to draw, but it is undeniable that health care approaches have changed significantly in the last 50 years, and certainly in the last 2500. Modern medical practitioners recognize the power and importance of patient mental health, especially in the fight against life-altering diseases. Projects are now including biophilia, quiet spaces, children’s areas, therapy gardens, and meditation spaces, not as add-ons, but as musts.


This focus on the whole person is being translated beyond the care rooms to a renewed commitment to their employees. With industry burnout at an all time high, spaces are being created specifically to support health care staff. Spurred by the Covid crisis, architects, designers, and product manufacturers are moving faster than ever to apply new thinking, implement innovations, and produce goods that reflect a culture shift from pure function to person-based spaces. burkeMICHAEL+ is helping health care clients create spaces that go beyond cure. This shift has been millennia in the making, and current research demonstrates the positive results.


We think Hippocrates would approve.


burkeMICHAEL+ is a health care industry expert, and our team is ready to help. Contact us and let’s talk about your next health care project to explore new products, methodologies, considerations and possibilities.

Mary Frances Hogan President + Ringmaster burkeMICHAEL+

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