How better hospital design can mean better care
Ben Allen | 05.22.14
The midstate has a new hospital, run by Pinnacle, on the West Shore. Sure, it’s right off Interstate 81, and is designed to draw patients in because of its location. But the design might be the most notable piece about the new facility.
It’s starting to break down the typical hospital prototype.
"We actually created models to look at the movement of staff within a particular department," says Paul Toburen, Vice President of Facilities and Support Services for Pinnacle. "So when you have a soiled utility room, clean utility room, that's close to the proximity of the patient care areas, there's less steps to be made. "
Photo by Ben Allen/witf
It still has the standard waiting ER room, but there’s also a new space for those who don’t need a bed but haven’t gotten test results back yet.
"When we’ve assessed someone, and they need to be in the department for a period of time, but they don’t have untreated pain, they are stable, we have a lounge that takes us less space than more patient rooms and lets us free up a patient room, and the nurse and those resources to take care of the next patient in line," says Dan Bledsoe, Medical Director of Emergency Services at the hospital.
The changes continue once you step foot in the actual ER too.
All the rooms are private – something that will please patients. But they’re also much closer to critical services if an emergency suddenly pops up.
Says Toburen: "Other hospitals might have to shoot these folks up an elevator, and cause certainly more delay in treatment. So the beauty of our design is we put them adjacent to each other, in progression."
The emergency area is set up like a long rectangular box, with private patient rooms on two edges, and multiple short paths to specialized areas like CT scan areas, cardiac catherization labs, and other evaluation areas. When a heart attack happens, seconds can matter.
For recovery though, steps matter.
"If you don’t have the adjacent spaces to provide the needs for patient care, it actually goes in reverse," says Toburen. "Staffers taking more steps unnecessarily to provide proper care, and it’s not as optimal as possible."
When a nurse, doctor, or other staff walks into a room, wireless technology will make it possible to show their face on the patient’s TV. And much of the staff will be working in collaborative spaces, not private areas that can impact patient care.
Pinnacle staff say their care is patient-centered, designed to make their stay is as pleasant as possible. The idea behind that: less stress means happier patients, shorter stays, and more efficient care.
"In a lot of hospitals, we have carts wheeling down the corridors, with computers on them, so what we've done in this hospital, we've tried to remain as cart-less as possible," says Toburen.
Hospitals have a lot to consider when putting together a new building. Nemours Children’s Health System has a group of locations in Pennsylvania, on top of hospitals in Wilmington, Delaware and Orlando, Florida.
"What I’ve seen evolve, particularly over the past 15 years, is that return on investment is important, efficiency is important. But the biggest thing that’s new is involving families and staff such that the needs of the patient are really first and foremost," says David Bailey, Nemours President and CEO.
Bailey says there’s proof natural light and soothing colors can actually speed the healing process as well. To that point, the new West Shore hospital allows natural light into rooms, the material in the walls softens loud noises, and there won’t be as many carts getting rolled around, as Paul Toburen detailed.
As Dan Bledsoe says, "We want you to feel like you’re in a nice hotel. We want you to feel comfortable, and able to relax and let us take care of you."
Behind the nice setting, with pleasant colors, friendly staff, and private rooms, is rigorous study of what works. At the West Shore Hospital, it’s getting put to the test.
Published in Healthcare Transformation