Nurses as Architects

Input from nurses creates a building that supports the needs of clinicians and patients

Moving is typically a dreaded chore, but the nursing team at Stamford Health in Stamford, Conn., can’t wait for moving day in September. That’s when they will relocate to a brand-new hospital they helped design. The expansion, consisting of a new 12-story building topped by a helistop, is the largest expansion undertaken in the organization’s 120-year history.”We wanted to create an environment where families could participate in the patient’s care,” explained Ellen Komar, MPA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. “Likewise, we wanted our nurses to spend as much time as possible on direct patient care.”

Nurses Involved in Design

“Right from the beginning, the nurses were involved in almost every decision that was made-nurses and the nursing leadership team used evidence-based practice to guide their design decisions for the new hospital,” Komar said. “Their input was sought on everything from the conceptual framework for the new building down to room layout and design, equipment purchases and color schemes.”

Liz Longmore, MSN, RN, director of clinical operations, critical care and new hospital activation, added that nursing staff took part in site visits to other newly-designed organizations prior to breaking ground.

“At every site visit, one of us would ask, ‘If you could do it all over again, what would you change?’ We got surprising answers and a lot of good advice from that question,” Longmore said with a laugh. “We learned from other organizations’ mistakes.”

Patient Rooms that Heal

Every detail was considered when designing rooms, floor layout and nursing stations. “We drilled down to the tiniest detail, including ‘Where do you want the outlets placed?’ Everything should be more convenient in the new building,” Longmore said.

Each floor of the renovated building will have 36 beds, with the space broken up into three pods containing 12 beds each. “Each pod will have its own nurses’ station, supply room and medication room,” Longmore said. “The goal was to minimize the time spent gathering supplies.”

Each patient room will be private, significantly larger and will contain its own bathroom. Most beds have line-of-sight to the nursing station, increasing safety and response time. One entire wall in each room will be comprised of windows. “It will be bright and cheerful-more pleasant for loved ones spending time with patients,” Komar commented.

Staff Spaces that Shine

Patients aren’t the only ones benefiting from the new design. Each pod in the med-surg units and the ICU provides designated staff areas so that clinicians can practice in an environment that is conducive to healing. “There are conferences rooms big enough to conduct multidisciplinary educational sessions; there are spaces where clinicians can hold meetings with the patients’ family members; and there are staff lounges with ample locker space and other amenities,” Longmore said.

New Workflow

Of course, a new workspace demands updated workflow processes. “Old, inefficient habits are not allowed to invade our new workspace,” Komar added. “Given such a different layout, the way we work will have to change. A few members of our nursing team are currently retooling every workflow process. They will be training the rest of the staff on not only the new workflow processes, but on the new equipment as well.”