5 Things You Didn’t Know About Hospitals
Upside-down hospitals? Four-star service for patients? Read all about how hospitals are designed to be the most modern, comfortable, advanced health care providers around!
When you think about a hospital, what do you see?
Is it the bright lights and bustle of the emergency room? Waiting rooms full of long tables and magazines? High-tech equipment helping to save a patient’s life?
There's so much more to the hospital these days — so many unique design decisions and new services that you may never hear about.
In fact, there's a professional society, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering, dedicated entirely to figuring out how to design the most modern, comfortable, advanced hospitals around! Based on their research, and the research of the Coalition to Protect America's Health Care, here are 5 fascinating things you ought to know about hospitals & their design:
1. 'Upside-down' hospitals and other resilient design choices
In the wake of storms such as Hurricane Katrina, health care designers have come up with thoughtful ways to make sure hospitals can continue to operate — even in times of crisis.
Interesting fact: The new University Medical Center (UMC) New Orleans, rebuilt after Katrina, is actually "upside-down"! Cafeterias and conference centers are located on the lower floors, while inpatient rooms, the ER, and surgery rooms are well above flood lines. UMC also has a secure "emergency operations center" where hospital staff can communicate with first responders and the public during a natural disaster.
2. Designing for kids
Have you ever sat (or stood) behind a really tall person at a movie or a show and not been able to see? It can drive you crazy. Now, imagine having the same problem — except you're a kid in a hospital where everything is built for adults.
That's why at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio, just about everything is kid-sized.
There are toy wagons that can take kids from one part of the hospital to another — with an IV attached. There's a "magic forest," a wonderland of giant trees that also have tables and chairs just inches off the ground so kids can have a space of their own.
And there are even kid-sized potties, because the last thing you want to worry about when you're in the hospital is using an adult restroom!
3. One way to make ER wait times shorter
When you go to the emergency room, you want to know two things: First, that you'll get seen as soon as possible. And second, that you'll be able to go home as soon as possible.
It's very doable — thanks to a model that researchers call "split flow design."
The idea is simple: Soon after your arrival at the ER, a team of doctors assesses you to determine how severe your need is, and you are assigned to one of two tracks. Essentially, if you just need some quick care, doctors are able to see you faster; and if you have a more serious need, you're likely to be admitted more quickly.
For example, Long Island Jewish Medical Center renovated their ER to test this design, and it's resulted in initial wait times dropping by 28% — and shortened length of stays by 5%!1
4. Four-star service for recovering patients
Uncomfortable rooms? Bad food? Put those stereotypes in the past where they belong.
These days, hospitals are striving to be modern, comfortable, and even sleek. Take Hackensack University Medical Center at Pascack Valley in New Jersey. There, patients have access to a 'concierge' who will give you a manicure or a shave; room services featuring as many as 26 different entrees; and private rooms with en suite bathrooms!
Why? Services like these boost the morale of patients. And some studies show that happier, more positive patients might recover faster than, or feel better than, than patients who are struggling — so that manicure isn’t a luxury, but a new path to patient care.
5. Why copper is hospital chic
Metal might not be the standard choice for hospital duds. But at Sentara Leigh Hospital in Roanoke, Va., the bed linens, patient gowns, bedside tables and bedrails are all infused with copper oxide. It’s all thanks to a state-of-the-art clinical trial showing that copper-infused linens and hard surfaces can help keep patients infection-free while in the hospital2.
Best of all: The hospital even saves money! While the linens cost a bit more to make upfront, they also last longer. These gowns are no silver bullet, but they’re a fascinating piece of the puzzle for helping hospitals provide the best patient care.
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