The physicians, staff members and volunteers of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation uphold a promise to provide a superb patient experience to the individuals and families who depend on us.
“Wow!” – that’s the most common word patients and visitors utter as they enter PAMF’s Mountain View Center. The cynosure of the lobby is a spectacular 15–foot glass sculpture by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Made up of 442 individual hand–blown glass elements, the sculpture is an electrifying potpourri of colorful Persian–style flowers in shades of yellow, blue and red hanging in two parts from the 54–foot–high atrium.
“The entry area of any building is a powerful place, a space that should be used to convey the character of the organization housed there – to set visitors’ expectations and the tone for their experience within the building,” says real estate investor turned philanthropist, Ed Dowd. Dowd donated $4.1 million to build the light–filled atrium, $1 million of which went toward the Chihuly sculpture, entitled Joyous. “I wanted the atrium and the sculpture to convey the dignity, strength, confidence and capabilities of this fine medical organization,” says Dowd, who made this gift in honor of his longtime physician Phil Brosterhous, M.D.
The Chihuly sculpture has done all that and more.
Dowd’s contribution to the entry pavilion of this facility reflects the contemporary view among many health care professionals and medical facility architects that visual art can soothe and calm patients who may be anxious or stressed.
In a letter to Dowd earlier this year, a patient wrote, “I had an appointment for sudden total hearing loss at the Mountain View Center ... as I walked through the glass doors, all I could see was the beautiful Chihuly chandelier in the lobby. How generous of you to make such a wonderful gift ... what a welcome to the people who come in for tests or results and are generally in a vulnerable state of mind. It is the best gift to be greeted with such a surprise full of joy, colors, and beauty. This chandelier speaks to me of the wonder, fragility and fleeting nature of life.”
Every year more than 700,000 patients and visitors enter the Mountain View facility and experience the cheerful, uplifting beauty of the stunning glass sculpture.
“In a very direct way, he has singlehandedly helped people who are frightened and hurting to feel better,” says Dr. Brosterhous, PAMF’s chief medical officer. “I was blown away by Ed’s generosity – his gift inspires a sense of hope, life and wellness. It immediately tells patients in a nonverbal way that we are here to focus on treating the whole person, not just the disease.”