Three areas at Upstate Medical University have new displays, all created to celebrate its students and faculty, patients and providers.
Students at Weiskotten
A new series of wall panels can be found in Weiskotten Hall, a historic Greek-style academic building that houses numerous portraits of medical school leaders dating from the 19th century through today.
“Medicine is changing,” reflects Bilal Butt, a third-year medical student of Puerto Rican and Pakistani descent, when asked to comment on the traditional imagery in Weiskotten Hall. “For a long time, doctors didn’t reflect the population of America.“
Butt was one of a number of students who wanted a change in the visual environment of the academic building. There was a desire for imagery that was contemporary and reflective of the diversity of the student population.
“A lot of students walk these hallways,” notes Ryan Schiedo, medical student and president of student government. “We needed something that expressed our pride and a sense of community.”
The challenge was to design something that appealed to current students, most of whom were born in the 1990s, while ensuring that the pieces were in keeping with the style of the historic building, which was built in 1936.
Utilize the existing color scheme of the building’s interior — the dark brown of walnut doors, the yellow ochre of the wainscoating, and the cream color of the walls. Add brick-red accents to match the building’s exterior. To integrate new images into the historic environment, turn color photos into sepia prints to give them uniformity and a sense of timelessness.
Temporarily remove the color portraits of the current chairpersons of the academic departments — 25 in all — and reinstall in sepia tones to match the existing décor and the new student-focused displays.
To show campus life, sort through hundreds of current photographs of students, at work and play. Select 56 photos representing students from all four colleges. Create sepia-toned collages and include statements of Upstate’s values such as “we drive innovation and discovery,” “we serve our community” and “we respect people.”
Make sure the student panels are the same height as the faculty portraits, thereby communicating mutual respect and equality.
Medical student Jordana Gilman is pleased with the new display in Weiskotten Hall. “It shows all sorts of activities that represent the life of a SUNY Upstate student,” she explains. “It’s visually appealing, reflective of my classmates and me, and sends a positive message about who can be a chairman and who can be a doctor.”
In Upstate’s downtown hospital, a second-floor hallway celebrates caregivers. On the walls are eleven posters featuring 21 nurses and physicians, all of whom have been praised, in writing, by patients and family members. Each poster reads “Dear Upstate” and has an excerpt from a letter. One of the most poignant reads, “Autumn McCann was the angel Mom needed at the end of her life.”
This display, located in the hallway that leads to the east tower and children’s hospital, is a component of the Human Resources Department’s ongoing employee recognition project.
“We love our patients”
A third location — Upstate’s Pediatric and Adolescent Center, the 4,735 sq. ft. clinic at Upstate Health Care Center in downtown Syracuse — has had a makeover. Walls have been painted, new signs installed, and a series of “Busytown-style” murals hung to entertain young patients. The final feature, a series of posters of young patients with their doctors and nurses, resulted from listening to medical director Steven Blatt, MD, say, “We love our patients.” Photographer Susan Kahn spent a day shooting portraits of patients with staff to give visual expression to Blatt’s sentiment.
Inspirational quotes such as “you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” and “the most precious jewels you will ever wear around your neck are the arms of your children” were added to give an extra dimension of warmth to the portraits.
The results? Lots of little patients looking at the posters, smiling and saying, “There’s my doctor!”