Let evidence point to effective facility design
For more than 50 years, we provided excellent care for our patients at a 34-bed hospital in Paulding County, Ga., 25 miles outside Atlanta, but the facility was not designed for today’s technology.
On April 1, we opened a new 56-bed, $115 million WellStar Paulding Hospital. Since then, our inpatient census is at near capacity every day; the emergency department volume is at our five-year projection level; and patients from other areas are requesting WellStar Paulding. So what did we do right? One phrase—evidence-based design. Joining the Center for Health Design’s Pebble Project, which aims to increase the body of knowledge in healthcare design, proved to be a crucial step in shaping our plans. Through our affiliation with the project, we visited 30 hospitals across the country over three years and were able to see firsthand what was working and what wasn’t.
Evidence from those tours, along with our own experience, played a major role in many of our choices. We created same-handed rooms that face the same direction, standardizing the layout and placing the patient’s bed close to the bathroom door, lowering the risk of a fall. We took out the central nursing station and stocked 80% of supplies that caregivers need in every room, giving nurses more time for patient care. We are reducing infections with technology; for instance, ultraviolet air handlers kill germs in the air before patients breathe it and a wireless system monitors provider hand-washing.
To ensure team member buy-in, we created a mock patient room and allowed all team and community members to weigh in on design decisions that would affect their jobs. In one instance, suggestions from a group of nurses led to a significant redesign of the emergency department.
In the end, everything we did focused on three groups—patients, team members and families. By keeping all of them at the forefront of our design decisions and using evidence to support those decisions, we created a facility that our community and team are proud of. Looking at our patient volumes, the results speak for themselves.
Mark Haney is senior vice president at WellStar Health System and president of WellStar Paulding Hospital in Hiram, Ga.