Striving for the perfect patient room – a consultative process

In closely scrutinizing the setup of a patient room, a look at one thing leads to another, says Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC’s) new hospital equipment and furniture planner.

In preparing for the purchase of equipment and furniture for PRHC’s new hospital, that planner, Loree Stephens is consulting with staff members to find out what the best possible patient room really looks like. She recognizes that the ideal setup will make the patient care team’s job easier and more effective.

“Though it’s a lengthier process than I had expected it to be, I think it’s time well spent,” says Stephens, who, along with Bonnie Tully, purchasing associate, has worked to set up a “model” patient room in one of the close-to-complete areas of the new hospital.

Scheduled to open in spring 2008, the new PRHC will be a 494-bed, 715,000 square-foot facility. The new hospital will allow for the consolidation of the two hospital sites in the city, will house 124 more beds, and allow the expansion of programs and services. The new hospital is now more than 85 per cent complete.

The “model” patient room is a semi-private – typical of those in medical, surgical, Complex Continuing Care, Palliative and Rehabilitation areas. The new hospital planning team’s intention is to standardize the ideal setup and apply it in all of those areas.

This standardization, explains Stephens, is safer, promotes best practices and allows staff members to be familiar with setup regardless of where they are working in the hospital. Lastly, it makes purchasing for the new hospital more manageable, more efficient and more effective.

Staff members from most areas of nursing, housekeeping, infection control, materials management and pharmacy have provided input on the “model,” as well as on the arrangement of a clean utility room, which will also be replicated throughout the new hospital. In the patient room, staff members have had their say on everything from the placement of the patient wardrobes to the arrangement of headwall accessories.

“The response from the staff has been very positive,” says Stephens, adding that when staff members are invited back to see their suggestions implemented they are especially excited. “Aside from creating the optimum setup, and taking advantage of an opportunity for consultation, I think we are saving money. For example, we’re not investing in devices that the nurses won’t use.”

An example of such a saving, is a blood pressure cuff and a monometer that were initially intended to be headwall accessories. Nurses said the ergonomic setup wasn’t suitable and indicated that they would prefer to use a portable vital signs monitor. So Tully, in co-operation with a couple of vendors, has devised a “clean” station that will attach to the portable monitor, allowing it to be easily cleaned and disinfected after each use.

When nurses are in the room, they visualize themselves at work, says Stephens, adding that something as simple as bringing in an IV pole into the room allowed the team to see that it slightly impeded access to the headwall. As such, a change was made.

“It’s good to talk about how things will fit into the room, and how we will work in the room,” says Suzanne Shaughnessy, an RN from one of PRHC’s surgical units that has been involved in this most recent round of consultation. The staff members have looked at everything – right down to the importance of the second hand on the clock, she adds.

Also as a result of the consultation, every patient bed space will have an accompanying cluster of accessories for clinicians to use. On the wall, there will be a small tabletop that staff members will be able to fold down with one hand. To one side of the table, will be a sharps container and to the other, alcohol hand rinse in a pump. This cluster of accessories sees everything at-hand – a place for clinicians to chart, set and mix medications, dispose of used needless and wash their hands.

“The staff loves it,” says Stephens, adding this cluster of accessories will be positioned close to the bedside, and will be dedicated to clinical use.

“Thanks to the participation of staff members who provided their ideas, we have found a solution that accommodates all needs; and thus, improved patient care,” says Tully.

This most recent round of staff consultation is the continuation of a commitment that the new hospital planning team made early on. “We are building a new hospital for our community. And we want our staff members to be able to provide the very best patient care possible, so it only made sense to find out what they wanted early on in the planning process,” says Tom Holden, Vice President, Planning. “In essence, we’re asking the experts. Our staff members know what they need to do their jobs to the very best of their abilities and we want to do all we can to provide those things.”