Current Leader

Tammy Thompson

Tammy Thompson
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Arts in Health and Healing, Built Environment/Housing/Planning, Disability Inclusion, Food Systems and Nutrition, Health Care Access, Obesity, Racial Justice Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children (6-11 years), Children and Families, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Homeless Populations, Low-Income Communities, Older Adults (65+), Women's Health, Young Children (0-5 years)
Institute for Patient-Centered Design, Inc.

To build a Culture of Health, it is necessary to include a variety of perspectives. As a healthcare architect, Dr. Tammy Thompson has often found herself as the only African American designer on a project. Informed by her own lived experience in healthcare, she has seen a lack of understanding of the healthcare journey for minorities.

Dr. Tammy is approaching this problem from three angles. As a healthcare administrator, she is working to diversify patient and family advisory councils for her health system by expanding access to these stakeholder groups. She has also extended opportunities for short-term engagements, which are often more feasible time commitments for patients who may lack the resources to support a long-term commitment as patient advisors. As an industry leader, Dr. Tammy facilitates trainings for design teams seeking to become more inclusive in the facilities they develop. She also teaches architectural engineering in North Carolina A&T State University’s College of Engineering, a program that graduates the most African American engineering students in the country. She seeks to increase the number of African American architects—particularly in healthcare design—to help build a Culture of Health.

Dr. Tammy is tackling this issue because health disparities are experienced most frequently by African Americans and other marginalized groups, making their voices essential during the design of services and facilities where they seek care. However, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, only 2 percent of licensed architects in the United States are African American. This results in limited (if any) African American representation on the design team. In addition, the Institute for Patient -and Family-centered Care reports a lack of diversity on patient and family advisory councils, the groups traditionally engaged during design projects to include the patient’s perspective.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Living Learning Lab for Fresh Food & Nutrition Literacy
In eastern North Carolina, nutrition is viewed as a regional priority. Our strategic initiative seeks to address food insecurity and health literacy gaps in underserved populations. ECU Health in eastern North Carolina will offer community members open access to visit the Living Learning Lab for Better Health to harvest free, fresh foods and receive nutrition education. Participants will practice gardening in order to learn how they may grow fresh food at home. Our initiative will address inequities that exist among community members with low health literacy and residents who do not have ready access to fresh food or land for planting gardens. Our strategic initiative will increase fresh foods available and the understanding of related health benefits, promoting a reduction in health conditions associated with poor diets, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Community Health Needs Assessments and reports on fresh produce and plants distributed from these sites may quantify the increase in healthy foods given to the public and measure related health outcomes in the community. Partners include Institute for Patient-centered Design, ECU Health Beaufort Hospital, Pamlico Rose, and Conetoe Family Life Center.

Dr. Tammy Thompson is an architect and healthcare leader, driven by a mission to improve the experience of patients in pursuit of better health and wellness, especially the under-represented African American patient community. She leads patient education and experience design teams for a large rural health system in North Carolina, and she serves on the faculty of North Carolina A&T State University. Dr. Tammy promotes a more diverse architectural profession, understanding that innovation requires collaboration between multiple perspectives on the design team and the way this impacts healthcare disparities. She believes that her work in inclusive design will lead to more equitable healthcare and better outcomes.

Click here to watch Tammy’s Legacy Project video.