Our employees want every patient to experience the best possible outcomes. This wouldn’t happen without the knowledge, compassion, and dedication of our entire care team. But healing and good health require more than expert care. Finding ways to reduce the risk of infection is essential, too.

Enter the architects, planners, and construction team for our new hospital. They have taken steps big and small to ensure that our new hospital meets the highest standards for safety. Some of these steps will be noticeable to patients and families. Others will be invisible. Either way, careful planning will help curb the risk of infection and spread of germs, helping our patients heal.

In our new hospital, every patient will have a private room. Single rooms provide more privacy and enhance rest. They also help reduce the spread of germs because patients will not be in close quarters with other patients, families, or visitors.

Maintaining the quality of indoor air is also critical to the health of patients, families, and staff. That’s why our new hospital will feature a high-efficiency particulate air filtration (HEPA) system. The HEPA system will filter out 99.9 percent of contaminants on patient floors. This includes tiny dust particles, mold spores, pollen, and bacteria. All operating rooms and rooms for high-risk patients will be equipped with additional HEPA filters at the vents.

Certain rooms are designed with special airflow systems for an added layer of protection. For critically ill patients, air will flow in such a way that germs from the hallway will not be able to enter the patient’s room. In the case of patients with infectious diseases, the air is directed so that it does not reach the hallway. Some of these rooms feature a small anteroom, or buffer room, between the hallway and patient room. Everyone entering and leaving the patient room must pass through the buffer room first. Anterooms allow the proper air pressure to be maintained in both the patient’s room and nearby hallways.

Cabinets, flooring, and other elements in each patient room have been carefully selected to help prevent infection. For example, the design of a sink can play a key role in infection prevention. With this in mind, the faucet of each sink in the care team zone is activated by an automatic sensor. As a result, care team members do not need to touch any surfaces to turn the water on and off.

For added safety, the faucet is offset slightly from the drain. This design prevents liquids from around the drain from splashing up when the faucet is turned on. An angled spout also helps to prevent splashing. So does a curved ridge above the basin, along the front of the sink. Cutting back on splashing helps combat the spread of germs.

Standardizing the placement of sinks and gloves in each room will also help with infection control. Members of the care team will not need to search for sinks when they walk into rooms. A cabinet outside each patient room door will hold personal protection equipment (PPE). Currently, PPE must be stored on carts or in bins that must be moved from place to place.

The new children’s hospital features sinks inside the entrance of all inpatient units. Visitors will have a convenient, visible place to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer before entering a child’s room. Currently, hand hygiene stations with hand sanitizer are available to visitors in most patient care areas.  

The type of flooring used in patient rooms will make cleaning easier. A continuous seam, integral base rubber flooring was selected. Integral base means that the flooring continues up the wall for a few inches. This allows the housekeeping staff to clean the entire floor easily without worrying about a tiny space between the flooring and walls. The continuous seam feature helps prevent infection, too. Without seams or joints, dirty water has no place to hide. A cleaner room means a safer room for everyone.

To make rooms easier to clean, sinks, counters, and other workspaces in the care team zone do not touch the floors. Furniture in the family zone can be moved easily for cleaning. Surfaces of furniture and cabinets are smooth, making them easier to clean than ones with seams or grooves. In bathrooms, trench drains will be installed to help drain water efficiently, preventing it from pooling.

Another special feature has been added for the benefit of pediatric cancer patients. Our new hospital features two classrooms. The classroom in the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center will serve pediatric cancer patients only, helping to limit their exposure to germs.  

The care that went into the selection of these features and others will make our children’s hospital a safer place for patients, visitors, and employees.