While the housing market has bombed, new hospital buildings are the rage in California due to a law that says they need to be seismically (earthquake) safe. As hospitals are planning the hospital of the future, many are using architectural design to reduce stress and promote safety and healing.
What type of building promotes safety and healing? We know what doesn't work. I've practiced in hospitals where the beds are so close together I could examine two patients at once without moving my feet. One wall mounted TV services two patients, so if you don't want to watch another episode of "Cops" while you are recovering from surgery, you're out of luck. And what about those bed trays on wheels that hold your food, your medication, your cards from relatives and your personal grooming supplies all together... clutter does not promote healing or good sanitation.
Most hospitals are hip to the fact that "noise" is a problem for patients and they try to keep the nursing station area quiet. It usually doesn't work. Phones are ringing, trays are clacking, nurses and doctors are talking and the best a patient can do is treat it like "white noise".
Here is what I would like to see in a healing environment:
- Windows looking out into nature with black out curtains. (The best sleep I ever get is in a hotel. Where do they get those curtains?)
- Bathrooms that are designed to prevent falls. Bars on walls, plenty of room to maneuver an IV pole or walker. Toilets that are higher than usual for ease of sitting.
- Standardized room designs so nurses can be efficient and have all of their supplies and medications handy and in identical locations. Wall computers in every room for nurse and physician charting. Cabinets to hide supplies and a closet for patients belongings.
- Window bed for family to spend the night.
- Priority on patient privacy. Private rooms, private conference rooms for family.
- Warm and very clean play area for children and their parents to hang out. Updated magazines, coffee and tea, water and computer in the family area.
- Garden/Atrium for patients, family and staff to be with nature quietly.
- Nutritional, organic food for patients and staff.
- Non-smoking inside and out.
- Absolutely no eating or food at the nursing station. Cold pizza and stale Sees candy...ugh!
- Nursing stations designed with input of nurses and their workflow to capitalize on efficiency, safety and patient centered care.