Designing a new hospital created an opportunity to improve efficiency and enhance patient safety. The concept of standardization guided the design of the entire building, including the layout of rooms and units. Consistent design will improve the ability of faculty and staff to locate needed equipment and supplies quickly. It also will make it easier for patients, families, and staff to navigate the facility.

On all levels, an oval hallway provides access to patient rooms, which are located along the outside wall. Lounges, vending machines, and restrooms are in the same location on each level.

Patient rooms also have been standardized. Every patient room includes three areas. There is a care team zone, patient zone, and family zone in each room. The layout of patient rooms is the same on all inpatient units, except Level 3. Level 3 is home to the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PCICU) and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). On that level, equipment and patient care needs dictated some modifications to the layout on other floors.

The dedicated family zone gives families space to rest and eat without leaving their child. Having their own space makes it easier for family members to be involved in patient care. Family zones on all inpatient floors are located closest to the windows.

Hallways for staff, medication rooms, nourishment rooms, and holding areas for trash and recycling are also in the same locations on all inpatient floors. The layout of these rooms is the same, enhancing productivity. Standardizing the location and design of medication rooms will help reduce the risk for errors, a key factor in patient safety. The familiarity associated with the standard design will make it easier for environmental services (housekeepers), nurses, and other employees to float between levels in an efficient manner. 

Nursing played a key role in establishing the need for same-handed rooms, which proved critical in how rooms were designed. Same-handededness means that the layout (where the patient’s bed is located, for example) is identical for rooms on each level. No matter which room the staff enters, they know where to find equipment, sinks, supplies, and computers. Even light switches will be in the same place. In emergencies, consistent design allows the care team to focus more on helping patients than finding needed items. Research suggests that same-handed design can help employees reduce errors and improve safety. That’s because the habits learned in one room transfer easily to others.

What does same-handed design mean for patients and families? For patients, it means knowing where to find the TV, light switches, bathrooms, etc., any time they are in the hospital. Bathrooms are inboarded, or located near the entrances in all patient rooms except those in the PCICU/PICU. There, bathrooms are outboarded, or located in the rear of rooms. Every family can be assured of having the same furnishings in the same spot, no matter which room they are assigned on a given level. This includes a refrigerator for family use and a sleeping area large enough for two adults to spend the night comfortably.

The standard design also creates a level of comfort for families who experience frequent admissions. Familiarity helps make the hospital seem more like home. For example, adjusting the thermostat or controlling shades in one room is identical to doing so in any other room.

The standard room design helps environmental services employees clean rooms more efficiently. They will no longer need to look around to find trash and soiled linen containers. With a standard procedure for cleaning every room, and continuous seam, integral base rubber flooring, they can also do their jobs more effectively. Clean rooms reduce the potential for infection, enhancing healing.  

Consistent design standards will also be used in other clinical areas. Operating rooms are same-handed in design. No matter which room a surgeon, anesthesiologist, or perioperative nursing team uses, they will always know what to expect upon entering. Rooms on the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) and the pre/post rooms are same-handed, too.

It’s not only the physical space that will be standardized. Employees are also adopting standard procedures to ensure a common approach to work. 

Standardization will allow teams to ensure the adoption of the highest standards associated with the design of our new children’s hospital. And that’s great news for everyone.