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Oklahoma City interior designer earns prestigious health care certificate

Kara McDonald of Miles Associates: Architecture Planning and Interiors passed the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers Examination and earned the only AAHID Certificate in Oklahoma.
by Richard Mize Published: August 3, 2013

Take the vibrant OU Children's Physician atrium.

“When you look at the atrium, there's not a lot of color, but the color that is there really stands out. There's actually one wall that's painted red, and then you have the (decorative aerial) butterflies that have lots of color,” McDonald said. “Something we looked at in the atrium is creating this patient experience in positive distraction.

“You have a lot of people coming in that are scared, that are coming in for surgery, or they're going to spend their entire day there — they're not from Oklahoma City, they might be from some small town that's three hours away — so, creating this environment where they can look up and see butterflies and see the curving ceiling. It's taking away from their concerns.”

The big push in hospital and health care design is to make such spaces look and feel more like hospitality space — hotels — than not, said Jorge Charneco, senior vice president for Miles Associates, 865 Research Parkway, Suite 100.

“They're not sterile white anymore, and one of the things Kara has to do is take that aesthetic, hospitality, and get it up to health care standards so you have infectious control. You have all sorts of technical issues that are there in the background,” he said. “It feels like a hotel but it functions completely differently, consistent with the requirements of the hospital.”

It takes more than being “good with colors” or somebody “who can pick furniture,” Charneco said.

The American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers “is the standard to identify those interior designers who are uniquely qualified to meet the needs and challenges of the health care interior design industry,” said Jocelyn Stroupe of Cannon Design in Chicago, a past president.

McDonald's earning the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers Certificate is “a big honor for Kara, but it's a big honor for Miles Associates, as well,” Charneco said. “It represents the caliber of individuals that we want to recruit, that we want to retain and that we want to see in Oklahoma.”