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April 7, 2011 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Devin DiTrolio sits in front of a computer in the Stephens College computer lab. Five different windows of room designs fill her screen. Each design represents a different space in Boonville’s Cooper County Memorial Hospital, which is undergoing a makeover.
DiTrolio, a senior in interior design at Stephens, is redesigning the administration offices, lobby, waiting area, reception area and inpatient wing as part of a class project. The hospital’s Board of Trustees will review and determine what will be taken from DiTrolio’s designs April 26. The project offers DiTrolio the opportunity to apply her skills to a real situation, unlike other classmates, who are using fictitious scenarios. Classmate Jessica Delgado, for example, is creating the design for a non-existent sushi restaurant from scratch.
WHERE: Davis Art Gallery, Stephens College
WHEN: Friday to May 9
Allen Waldo, Cooper County Memorial Hospital CEO, says that because the hospital doesn’t have much of a budget to hire professional designers, he approached Stephens College professor of interior design Lee Ann Fields and asked for help from college students.
The project began when another student, Sara Bass, who graduated in December 2010, redesigned the outpatient area along with other small spaces. The hospital was enthusiastic about Bass’ ideas and reached out again to Stephens. Now it’s DiTrolio’s turn to redesign some of the facility.
Because of DiTrolio’s love for health care design, something she knew she wouldn’t grow bored with, she chose to work with the hospital. “I’m passionate for health care design because it gives more than just the purpose of redesigning,” DiTrolio says. “You can actually help better a patient’s stay.”
DiTrolio met with Waldo before fall semester to discuss the redesigns and then spent the semester completing research before taking the next step this semester. DiTrolio organized surveys, observational studies, research and tours of other Missouri hospitals to create an 80-page binder of background information. Between tours and studies, DiTrolio grasped that functionality had to back up her decisions.
DiTrolio has devoted the current semester to digitally designing the departments on AutoCAD. She talks and meets with Waldo often to discuss her progress and receive feedback. She also considers the opinions of hospital workers and department directors whom Waldo brings into their meetings. In the end, DiTrolio will make the final decisions.
“I’m always working on it,” DiTrolio says. “Sometimes I have to go back and rework things.”
The professionalism of her relationship with Waldo will follow her into the real world, much like the networking she has accomplished through her work with furniture representatives and the hospital. “It gets her the experience that will prepare her for her future job,” Waldo says.