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The Healthcare Interior Design 2.0 Podcast Episode 56: Karen S. Freeman AIA, ACHA, NCIDQ, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C Practice Leader, Healthcare, HOK

December 2022

On today’s episode, Cheryl interviews Karen S. Freeman, AIA, ACHA, NCIDQ, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C Practice Leader, Healthcare, at HOK – a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Karen is also the incoming President for the national organization, Women In Healthcare – a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the professional development of women in the healthcare industry. There’s a lot to share from Cheryl and Karen’s inspiring conversation including the importance of designing for mental health, and why it matters so much in today’s world.

Learn more about Karen S. Freeman and HOK by visiting https://www.hok.com/.
Learn more about Women in Healthcare by visiting https://www.womeninhealthcare.org/.

In Cheryl’s conversation with Karen S. Freeman, they discuss:

  • The changes that took place in Karen’s world when COVID hit the United States in 2020.
  • Specifically, what changed with Karen’s pediatric and subspecialty projects?
  • What did Karen learn from the pandemic?
  • Karen wrote an article for HOK entitled, “Pediatric Mental Health Crisis Needs Bold Design Strategy” that addressed the needs of children during the pandemic through the design of the built environment. Learn what the article is all about.
  • Has the situation in the mental healthcare space improved now that we are in 2022?
  • What still needs to happen to help kids in the mental health space and what progress has been made?
  • What is Karen’s sweet spot in the work she does at HOK?
  • Karen holds a Six Sigma Lean Black Belt in Healthcare (LBBH) and she is one of fewer than 450 board-certified healthcare architects in the U.S. per the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA). How does Karen bring all of this together on her healthcare projects?
  • Listen to Karen talk about her incoming role as the new President of the national organization, Women in Healthcare. What does the organization do and offer?
  • Learn about Karen’s origin story and how she came to specialize in pediatric healthcare and why this theme holds a special place in her heart.

The world is changing quickly. The Center for Health Design is committed to providing the healthcare design and senior living design industries with the latest research, best practices and innovations. The Center can help you solve today’s biggest healthcare challenges and make a difference in care, safety, medical outcomes, and the bottom line. Find out more at healthdesign.org.

Additional support for this podcast comes from our industry partners:

  • The American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers
  • The Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design

Learn more about how to become a Certified Healthcare Interior Designer® by visiting the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers at: https://aahid.org/.

Connect to a community interested in supporting clinician involvement in design and construction of the built environment by visiting The Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design at https://www.nursingihd.com/.


The prevention of nosocomial infections is of paramount importance. Did you know that bathrooms and showers – particularly in shared spaces – are a veritable breeding ground for pathogen, some of which we see in the form of mold and the build-up of toxic bio films on surfaces.

Body fats and soap scums provide a rich food sauce for micro-organisms such as airborne bacteria Serratia Marcescens, which thrive in humid conditions.

We know that people with weakened immune systems are so much more vulnerable to the illnesses associated with infection and let’s face it, none of us go into the shower with an expectation that we might get ill…

So how do we keep those shower walls clean? Well let’s think big – BIG TILES.

Porcelanosa have developed XXL Hygienic Ceramic Tiles that are 5 feet long – which means just one piece fits the wall of a shower or tub surround. XTONE Porcelain slabs are 10 feet high which means a floor to ceiling surface with no joints.

Why does this matter? Well hygienic glaze will not harbor pathogen and surface impurities are easily removed to prevent build up – it is reassuring to know the evidence – INTERNATONAL STANDARDS Test ISO 10545 - Resistance to Stains – has determined these surfaces can be easily cleaned and the most difficult contaminants washed away, greatly reducing the need for aggressive chemicals.

Think about this…When we unload our dishwasher our ceramic tableware is sparkling clean, sanitized and fresh to use – again and again. The principle is the same with large ceramic walls – So, when planning the shower surrounds for your facilities please reach out to Porcelanosa at info@healthcareidpodcast.com. You will love the incredible options and your specification will deliver the longest & best lifecycle value bar none.