Designing for Health--Our Move to the 21st Floor

Theri Griego Raby, MD, ABIHM


Look around you. Whether you realize it or not, your environment is affecting your mood. How is the lighting--soft and warm or harsh and sterile? What color are the walls--are they putting you at ease or setting you on edge? Is there a window that lets you see beyond your own perimeter, providing perspective?


There's no question for me that the environments where we spend our time support our whole being--our mental, physical, and spiritual health. They elicit emotional responses in us, and as a result are capable of affecting our health and well-being.


This philosophy is called psychoneuroimmunology--the theory that our psychological processes directly interact with and affect our nervous and immune systems. In the healthcare environment, this is especially important because so many of us utilize healthcare to help us heal.


At the Raby Institute, psychoneuroimmunology folds into the choices we've made in designing our current space. And it affects how we're designing our new space on the 21st floor of 500 N. Michigan. We want to provide a healing environment for everybody at every level of well being.


My dream has always been that the minute someone walked through this space, he or she would feel an overwhelming calmness. Being in a serene state, instead of inundated with a barrage of sensory input, would in turn enable healing.


Every decision I've made has been a means of achieving that dream. From the colors of the walls (each representing one of the five major elements in Chinese medicine) to the music we play, it all feeds into our psychological state. And I'm happy to report that I've heard from many of you that it's working.


Additionally, I believe in preserving our Earth, this place we call home and that gives us so much. We must preserve what we can during our time here, leaving our home better off than when we arrived. That's why in our move upstairs, we're recycling everything possible: carpet, flooring, wallpaper, lights, furniture. They will either be re-used directly or broken down to be used in a new way, such as old wallpaper becoming the glue that holds the new wallpaper. And all of the materials used in the process are VOC-free.


Items we can't recycle in the new space, we're donating to WINGS Metro, a 40-bed shelter for battered women and children opening in Chicago this year. WINGS will receive upwards of $60,000 in supplies from the Raby Institute: sinks, wood, counter tops, toilets, glass panels, and even our front desk.


I thank you for supporting me in making this dream a reality. You've shown me that others out there value their health and the role environment plays in health as much as I do. I can't wait to enjoy our new space with you.


Here's to your health!








Theri Griego Raby

"The physicians and practitioners at the Raby Institute really work with me to educate me on how to take charge of my wellness. I am learning to be more aware of what my body, mind and spirit need to be healthy so I can live a full life."
- Raby Institute patient