Nurses Are Key Architects for the New Hospital Design

building designThe design of Golisano Children’s Hospital’s new patient rooms incorporates the latest in children’s hospital room design including three distinct zones: patient, family and health care provider. Each zone is meticulously planned to improve the experience for everyone. For example, in the patient zone things like headwalls, wastebaskets, hampers and sharps containers will all be tucked away, making them less intimidating to children. The nursing teams have been working hard with the architects to find creative ways to make the rooms work well for providers while still maintaining a sense of “home away from home” for families.

Outlets will be conveniently positioned so that medical equipment is easily accessible yet unobtrusive. And patient rooms – in addition to being private – will be spacious enough so that family members won’t have to move out of the way when a caregiver needs to walk around the bed.

These features are planned for the new, eight-story children’s hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and have become part of the design process in large part through design recommendations from the hospital’s nursing staff. Given their professional expertise and the amount of time they spend with patients and families, they offer crucial input for making sure the hospital offers the most efficient and effective specialized pediatric care possible.

“The nurses are key,” said Elizabeth Lattimore, chief administrative officer for clinical services at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “We need to make sure our new design offers the latest in evidence-based design in patient safety, workflow for doctors and nurses, child-friendly design to reduce patient trauma and stress, and amenities for families so they can remain at their child’s bedside as a key member of the care team.The nursing teams that run these units are key architects providing invaluable design recommendations for our future hospital.”

Working closely with architects, nurses provide opinions that go far beyond soothing palettes for the 245,000-square-foot tower, which will feature an expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), 52 private rooms with ample space and couches that convert into double beds, a conveniently paired Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PICU/PCICU), and pediatric imaging sciences facilities below. Breaking ground this fall and slated to open in 2015, the hospital will also include a hospitality suite with kitchen, shower and laundry facilities, a resource library with a concierge service, a drop-in daycare, teen room and two-story playdeck, and other additions designed to help patients and families feel as comfortable as possible.

nurses helping design hospitalNurses regularly pore over highly detailed floor plans, and participate in simulations to ensure that each private room has three separate zones – for caregivers, the patient, and the family – that are clearly defined for optimal support and healing.

“The level of curiosity and feedback intensifies once you see these ideas in the mock-up stage,” said Sue Bezek, associate director of pediatric nursing. “Everything comes alive. The vision becomes clearer.”

And that vision extends to something as seemingly basic as the bathroom door.

“I personally took on that one as a challenge,” Lattimore said. “The initial design called for a large handicap accessible door that swings into the family zone of the room. We don’t want a design that right away tells the family they are in the way. We want a design that says you are integral to the care and is welcoming to the family. So we found a solution. It’s that level of detail.”

Fina Santiago appreciates such meticulous consideration. Her son, Nicholas, has congenital fiber-type disproportion, a neurological non-degenerative muscular disorder. Now 12, he has been receiving care at the hospital for 11 years. For the first seven years, he spent about three months out of every year there, but now that he’s stronger than ever, the stays usually last from a few days to a week.

Santiago, who has sat on the hospital’s Family Advisory Board for seven years and is a family representative for the design phase, offers a deeply personal perspective to the process. She recalls times another patient in her son’s shared room would have to be moved just so that Nicholas could make his way in his wheelchair, which wouldn’t fit between the bed and the wall, to the bathroom.

“A lot of times children are growing up here – they’re living here,” she said. “We want to make sure they feel at home, and the hospital is trying to do everything it possibly can to make sure families are having a say. That’s huge.”

The design process is a gradual one, with nurses providing a critical role in making sure families feel part of their child’s care – without stepping into their space to provide it.

“As each phase evolves, we bring new questions to the nurses.” Bezek said. “We say, ‘Here’s what we have at this point, and here’s what we think we need. Is there anything we haven’t thought of?’”

Multimedia in this Issue:

2012 Stroll for Strong Kids Slideshow

Stroll for Strong Kids slideshow

Telethon 2012 Slideshow

Telethon 2012