Designing a Healthier Hospital

Good design is not just about appearances, especially when it comes to planning a new hospital. Research shows that good design influences patient outcomes, controls infection rates, and reduces medical errors.

In planning the expansion of Packard Children’s, architects, contractors, and engineers worked closely with hospital personnel to integrate state-of-the-art design with the highest standards of safety and efficiency. The result is a hospital layout that is focused on the health and well-being of patients and families, yet is flexible enough to accommodate future innovations in medical care and services.

In fact, many elements of the hospital expansion that may seem like amenities are actually designed for more effective health care, says George R. Tingwald, MD, AIA, a general surgeon and director of medical planning for Packard Children’s and Stanford Hospital & Clinics. He is one of only a handful of experts with credentials in both medicine and architecture.

“The vast majority of the new patient rooms will be private, which eliminates the need to pair patients by age, gender and medical condition, and rematch them as their acuity changes. We found that 40 percent of nurses’ time was spent in moving patients, which is when a patient is most susceptible to potential injury or health changes,” he says.

Private rooms will be standardized but adaptable enough to accommodate different levels of acuity so that a patient does not have to be moved. They are also designed to accommodate the family, which recognizes the powerful role a family plays as caregivers.

“Children’s hospitals have led the way in recognizing the importance of involving families and introduced concepts like rooming-in and family-centered care,” Tingwald says. “No one notices a change in a child’s condition better than a parent or family member. By being in the room, as part of the daily routine, the family becomes the patient’s best advocate, which often means that the child can go home sooner.”

But while they’re in the hospital, families can rest assured that patient safety is the determining factor in how Packard Children’s has been designed.


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