It takes strength of heart, and a little extra tender care, to recover from any illness. But when you’re a cardiac patient, receiving quality care can be a bit tricky, as many times different treatments in different rooms are needed, forcing multiple room transfers and a shuffling of caregivers on staff.
Having a chance to change this tide with funds for an eight-story, 308,000-sq.-ft. hospital addition, administrators at the Center for Advanced Medicine in Danville, Pa., tasked Ewing Cole, an architectural firm based in Philadelphia, with creating a plan for the new Geisinger Medical Health System that would deliver an optimal operational model for cardiac patient care, as well as provide a patient pavilion to offer ease of access and amenity for its users.
“The 2006 Geisinger master plan yielded a desired operational model that utilized an 'acuity adaptable' patient room and unit,” recalls Natalie Miovski, AIA, LEED AP, healthcare planner for Ewing Cole. “Knowing that universal rooms or the 'universal care model' had failed at many other locations, we were collectively challenged to understand what made the model fail and if it was possible for it to succeed at Geisinger.”
After much multidisciplinary and evidence-based research, the team decided to feature a model based on an acuity adaptable design, which took inspiration from existing universal models. “The budget for this project was focused on improving service and quality of care, as opposed to extraneous building design,” says Stephanie King, LEED AP, interior designer for Ewing Cole, meaning the patient rooms received a majority of dedication.
At Geisinger, patient rooms successfully are equipped to adapt to caring for a post-surgical or critical care patient without any room transfers. Rooms are spacious and feature a hospitality-styled, versatile headwall with built-in medical gasses, lighting, and critical equipment. “The greatest patient room design challenge was to design an ICU headwall that was not frightening by having all of the ICU ready equipment set up and visible at all times,” says King.
Footwalls provide amenities to patients and visitors, including a TV, electronics plug-in station, a bed with an overbed desking station, and convertible seating for family and overnight guests. Special lighting, mobile cabinet units, built-in millwork for storage, patient fan, and a welcome center—with clock, calendar, white board—and wardrobe unit add to the flexibility of the space.
Additionally, strategically placed staffing zones create efficient task flow for nurses and other medical staff so all daily care can be provided within the patient space. A hand-wash station, linen storage, and supplies are readily available within the room, while a room adjacent computer allows environmental services, food service, maintenance, and trash removal staff to complete service with limited access and disturbance to the inhabitants.
Throughout the building, hospitality-like materials and finishes—such as wood-textured, vinyl flooring, and warm, natural tones—were used to compliment and accentuate the space’s prominent open design, while large windows facilitate natural daylighting and increased energy efficiency, as well as open up natural views to staff and patients. “The hospital’s design is both patient-centered and staff-friendly; these objectives were rigorously sought and gauged at every stage of design,” says Miovski, who asserts this contributes to the hospital’s overall success.
Since the project’s opening in early 2010, Geisinger has received multiple merits, including a shout-out from President Obama in a national address. “We need to build on the examples of outstanding medicine at places... like Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania and Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, where high quality care is being provided at costs well below the national average,” he says. “These are all islands of excellence and we need to make them the standard in our healthcare system.”