Let ev­i­dence point to ef­fec­tive fa­cil­ity de­sign

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By Mark Haney

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.

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