July 23, 2008

Staff Teams Help Design Hospital: They Suggest Equipment, Placement.

By Jennifer L. Boen, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Jul. 23--At what was once Parkview Health's flagship hospital, "mock rooms" in empty space help determine what will -- and won't -- be needed at the new $490 million facility that, in many ways, will replace it.

The start of construction on Parkview Regional Medical Center, the 400-plus-bed hospital in northeast Fort Wayne that will become Parkview Health's flagship by 2011, is less than two months away. Meanwhile, at Parkview Hospital at East State Boulevard and Randallia Drive just minutes from downtown, patient care and technological advances are at the core of decision-making in these mock rooms.

Judy Boerger, Parkview Health's chief nursing officer, said 40 teams of staff members from every department in the hospital are giving input and choosing room configurations, bathroom locations, height of nursing station counters, types of beds and even electrical outlet placements for various kinds of equipment.

The new hospital's medical-surgical areas will be organized into 12 private-room pods, with nurses having visibility into every room through a window as well as contact with patients by wireless technology, no matter where the nurse is. Blood pressure cuffs will be on the wall on both sides of the bed to accommodate right- and left-handed nurses, and patients with intravenous lines or other equipment that, in the past, required draping equipment across patients. Bedside computers for nurses to record their notes will be in every room. They're rolled room to room now, which can increase the risk of the spread of infections.

Vital signs will be taken with consolidated electronic equipment mounted on the wall. Smart beds will alert nurses if a bed rail has been lowered for a patient who is at risk of falls, or if a patient gets out of bed unassisted. Every room will have a ceiling-mounted electronic lift system, which prevents injuries in staff and patients.

"There is even such a thing as a 'smart sheet,'" that automatically assesses a patient's vital signs, Boerger said. The technology is still in testing, but she envisions its use in the not-too-far future.

"We are really using technology to create an environment to better safety," said Erin LaCross, a Parkview nurse for five years and manager of the surgical unit.

Staff members are also giving input on what kind and where a sofa or loveseat that becomes a bed should be. Longtime nurses Jackie Myers and Pat Owns say comfortable beds are needed because family members today are encouraged to stay overnight with their loved ones.

"Pat and I started when you chased people out of the room," Myers said.

In the medical-surgical areas of the new hospital will be patient education rooms and a "quiet room" for nurses. Education rooms are needed because patients' stays are shorter these days and instructions for home care begin almost when the patient first arrives. The quiet rooms allow nurses to decompress from the stress and are especially valuable, Boerger said, when a patient has died.

"We've been doing this for a year," Boerger said of the development of room prototypes, and final decisions will be made soon. "Our goal is to incorporate a healing, home environment."


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