4 Chairs Designed For Health Care

Nala Patient Chair. Copyright (c) Herman Miller, Inc.

Furniture continues to press the boundaries of its former limits. Once relegated to mere necessities for a place to write, sit, or eat, furniture evolved into new purpose. As medical facilities realized they needed to compete with each other for patients, furniture earned a new responsibility; to appeal to the eye.

But now, industry has been looking inside itself to create even more value in order to stand out above peers.

We're in a new era now. Furniture as medical supply.

Here are four chairs that were designed to enhance health and safety in a demanding medical environment.

# 1 Herman Miller's Nala Chair

The Nala chair, manufactured by Herman Miller, was designed to create a safe and appealing place for a patient to sit, and recover, out of the patient bed. Clinicians have realized that patients heal faster when they are visited by friends and family, and when they are up and out of bed, ambulating, taking walks, and even just sitting upright. The Nala Chair provides a place for a patient to sit upright comfortably for 3 to 4 hours. 

Other beneficial features of the chair include a soft, "waterfall" front seat edge with an exaggerated overhang, so that a feeble patient can back up to it gently, and locate the chair behind them with their calves touching the waterfall edge.

Another helpful "hand":  The chair projects forward steadily and slowly to help the seated patient get up, or to receive a patient trying to ease into the chair.

The arms are moveable to help a nurse get access to the patient's side, in case a dressing needs to be checked. The arm material is a soft PVC making it a comfortable place for the forearms to rest.

Added comfort options include a headrest, an ottoman, two subtle but durable wheels for staff to move the chair safely in order to prevent back strain.

# 2 Herman Miller's Cente Chair

The Cente chair has many of the same design features of the Nala; a lever to project and lift the seat of the chair forward, an optional ottoman, arms that raise to permit lateral transfer from a wheelchair or for better access to the patient's hip for the nurse.

Where it differs from Nala is that it has a bit firmer sit, and it reclines less, which makes the Cente a chair designed for patient recovery and healing, but meant for a shorter seating duration, usually 2 to 3 hours of comfort.

# 3 Vecna's Vitals Chair

The Vitals Chair, made by Vecna, is designed to improve efficiency in the patient ambulatory care experience. The chair is the size of a lounge chair, and it has a computer and some small medical supplies built into the arm. The patient sits in the chair, enters their name, and the built in scale records the patient's weight. The patient self-reports their height, but uses the built in medical supplies, the automatic sphygmomanometer to record blood pressure and the pulse oximeter to record blood oxygen level.

While the patient is "waiting" in the waiting room, they are actually engaged in their own health care process, and also getting some vital information recorded while they wait for an exam room to be opened for them, where they would of course then be seen by a health care provider.

# 4 Healthcentric IC+

Ergocentric, a Canadian manufacturer of ergonomic chairs and other products, has a health care specific brand called Healthcentric. Their ergonomic chairs have a unique, proprietary coating that is designed to stop the spread of health care acquired infection.

The coating, which Healthcentric/Ergocentric has dubbed "IC+", is a durable wrapping that contours the seat, back, or arm rests of a chair. IC+ resembles a heavy-duty vinyl. It is smooth, highly puncture resistant, and prevents microbes from living on it.

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