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Webinar: VA Healing Environments and Research: Connection, Reflection, Introspection, Trust and Acceptance

When: July 11, 2019
Time: 11:00am Pacific
Price: $65 Individual View/$150 Group View

1 unit EDAC continuing education
1 unit AIA continuing education
IDCEC credit also available**

CEU forms available for download during webinar


This webinar is free to our Affiliate+ members.


The Department of Veterans Affairs Healing Environment Design Guidelines (VAHEDG) is an unprecedented document to guide design and construction of all VA medical centers, outpatient clinics and long-term living facilities; it was released in January 2018. The formatting and glossary encourages collaboration in the design of healing environments for: facility staff, architects, engineers, and veteran and medical providers, including mental health experts. It addresses every space from inpatient, outpatient to common spaces that would allow a patient to de-stress for more efficient medical treatment. 

This webinar will provide an overview of this integrative platform for the healing of the mind, body and spirit of 9 million veterans and their families. Twenty-three veterans ranging from private to one-star general, and from the Vietnam War to Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, have all made significant contributions to the VAHEDG. In addition, 19 deployed veterans added significant life experiences after war, issues of integration into the civil society, as well as and their perspectives of care within the VA.

This webinar will also reinforce the value of traditional post-occupancy evaluations with scientific data collected using a mixed-methods approach of both qualitative interviews and quantitative tools, including the NIH-HEALS.


Learning Objectives

  • Identify the 7 Healing Environment Design Principles that guide the design and construction for all VA Medical Centers, including outpatient clinics and long-term living facilities.

  • Apply the two main principles of effective healing environment design: 1) Provide a therapeutic environment that eliminates stressors and 2) use architecture as a tool for healing programming.

  • Incorporate the design principle for stress reduction for therapeutic environments including: small protected areas for greater sense of privacy and security, natural materials, nature-influenced color palette, natural light, and high-performance acoustics.

  • Identify the design components that support integrative care delivery in a courtyard/atrium typology for a VA Medical Center or outpatient clinic.


Presenting Faculty

Ann Berger, MSN, MD, Chief of the Pain and Palliative Care Service, NIH Clinical Center

Dr. Berger is the Chief of the Pain and Palliative Care Service at the NIH Clinical Center, where she has clinical, teaching, research and administrative responsibilities. Dr. Berger coordinates a very successful hospice and palliative care fellowship at the NIH, clinical center. Internationally, Dr. Berger has been involved with the NCI All-Ireland fatigue consortium, the NCI Croatian Cancer Consortium and the Mideast Cancer Consortium teaching palliative care in multiple different countries in the world.

Dr. Berger has recently developed the new innovative NIH-HEALS which measures psychosocial spiritual healing of individuals with life threatening and life challenging situations. Dr. Berger has both published and lectured extensively in the field of pain and palliative care.

Gary M. Fischer, AIA, Senior Architect in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Office of Construction and Facilities Management (CFM), Facilities Standards Service (FSS)

Gary Fischer serves as Senior Architect in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Office of Construction and Facilities Management (CFM), Facilities Standards Service (FSS). In this role Mr. Fischer manages the development and update of all space, equipment, and planning and design standards for VA Medical Facility design and construction projects. This includes the space, equipment, and planning standards for 65 VA Clinical, Clinical Support, and Administrative Support Services.

Mr. Fischer advises the Director of the Office of Facility Planning and the Director of the Office of Facilities Standards Service on issues relative to space, equipment, planning and design standards and the interface with VHA. The development and maintenance of these standards is executed in close collaboration with and supported by VHA Advisors and Subject Matter Experts requiring continual and on-going interaction between the FSS and VHA.

Paul Alt, AIA, NCARB, Architect and Founder, Alt Architecture + Research Associates LLC

The primary mission of Alt Architecture +Research Associates is the creation of “environments as a tool” for: well-being, education, and community building for traumatized populations. Their work began with inner city youth on the Southside of Chicago and the South Bronx and then proceeded to work with active military, Veterans and their families. They were part of the Epidaurus Project, a think tank at Bethesda Naval Military Medical Center in 2007. The think tank consisted of renown: civilian and military behavioral health researchers, clinicians addressing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Major Depression.  

A completed work occurred in 2014 with the transformation of the Cedar Rapids Veteran Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Veteran Memorial Building was a mixed-use project that consisted of 110,000. sq. ft. with a construction budget of $20.4 million.  In addition, their studio completed the Master Plan for the Green Road Project at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2016, and the Patriots Casa at Texas A& M University (completed in August 2014, a $5 million, 23,000 sq. ft. stand alone student Veteran Center). Currently they are members of SWIM (Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee), producing a Milwaukee County Healing Environment Master Plan as well as designing a Peer to Peer Therapeutic and Training Center for Veterans and First Responders in Chicago.