Healing Hospital: A Daring Paradigm Essay

1384 words - 6 pages

Healing Hospital

By: Laurie Eberst When a new hospital is being planned and built, much of the focus is often placed on how many beds it will house, where each department will be located, how many it will employ and the bottom-line cost of the project. This is not necessarily the case for Catholic Healthcare West’s (CHW) Mercy Gilbert Medical Center in Arizona, which opened its doors in June, 2006. While these considerations were important to the company’s plans for the hospital, I and the leadership team worked hard to ensure that the facility was built to reflect, in every way possible, a healing environment. One that helps patients feel safe and comfortable, one that reminds staff why ...view middle of the document...

I spent many hours with her postoperatively supporting her physical as well as emotional wellbeing. I would get her comfortable and positioned for sleep when the intercom would announce that a doctor was on the phone, or a nurse was wanted at the front desk. It wasn’t much longer before a loud floor cleaning machine swooped next to her patient room startling her and causing her additional anxiety. All she needed was some sleep. And that was when it hit me. If I influence anything during the construction of Mercy Gilbert, it will be the aesthetics of the hospital and the noise level in patient care areas. I wanted Mercy Gilbert to be free from overhead paging, in-room intercoms, loud machines rolling down hard, long hallways or voices calling to each other at the nurse’s station. For a hospital to promote healing, it needs to provide a quiet environment that allows patients to sleep. Patients’ bodies perform the most repair during sleep. Cells regenerate faster during sleep. So why, in the very setting where healing is most needed, do hospitals allow for high levels of noise and sleep deprivation? Mercy Gilbert promotes a quiet environment. All patient hallways are carpeted. Cleaning machines have a special silencer to avoid startling patients while passing by patient rooms. There is no overhead paging except for emergencies. Nursing staff carries a wireless phone to allow for direct connection with physicians, patients and families. The noise-free environment not only promotes healing for patients, but also has a secondary advantage of promoting a calmer, more stress-free environment for employees and physicians. In healthcare we repeatedly hear that medication errors are often due to distractions. By providing a noise-free environment caregivers are less apt to get distracted, resulting in a reduction of errors. Integrating Work Design and Technology A second key component of a Healing Hospital™ is the integration of work design and technology. Working with our designers, we found ways to enable staff to work more efficiently, to provide additional privacy and security for patients and to use technology to promote the healing environment. Mercy Gilbert was designed with a separate, “back of house” bank of elevators for staff to navigate through the hospital and for patient transfers, providing privacy and security. A patient on his way to radiology, for example, is free from worry that he will run into a neighbor in the elevator. Patients deserve the dignity of preserving their privacy during what is often a stressful time. Technologically advanced equipment allows Mercy Gilbert not only to provide the very best in healthcare services, but also to expedite processes and results. Patients cared for at Mercy Gilbert can take advantage of the latest digital technology in radiology, pulmonary testing and cardiology. Physicians are able to access test results from their office, which expedites decision making and treatment. Each patient room...

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