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New Good Samaritan spaces to feature patient-focused design

Posted on Jul. 7, 2017 ( comments)
Design Workshop
Good Samaritan staff and architects look over the initial design of the floor during their workshop. (Photo courtesy Clark/Kjos Architects)

Looking at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital from the outside, a passerby might never guess that the building isn’t quite finished.

When the eight-story Dally Patient Care Tower opened in 2011, its full 375,000 square foot capacity wasn’t required to support community health needs. With an eye toward inevitable growth, the 7th and 8th floors of the tower were left unfinished inside.

Six years later, as East Pierce County’s population continues to grow, the time has come to increase the tower’s capabilities. Finishing the two floors will add 40 beds to a new post-surgical unit on the 7th floor and another 40 to a new progressive care unit on the 8th.

Rather than continue from the original blueprints, which dated back nearly a decade, MultiCare Health System and its long-time design partners from Clark/Kjos Architects used this as an opportunity for collaboration and employee engagement by leveraging experience from staff and providers to optimize the design.

“The idea is to be closer to our focus, which is the patient,” says Janine Sanderson, RN, manager of critical care at Good Samaritan.

“We wanted to build on the lessons learned from the staff working on the existing floors, and wanted to capitalize on their wealth of knowledge,” says Jessica Radecki, associate principal with Clark/Kjos Architects, based in Portland, Oregon. “We proposed a different way to engage: a three-day intensive design workshop with staff.”

The firm specializes in health care facility design and was part of the original design collaborative for the Dally Tower in 2007.

She credited the health system’s leadership for engaging staff and having the vision to support an out-of-the-box idea.

The workshop began with 50 MultiCare employees huddling around a large board for a “sticky note” design session, moving rooms and work areas around to experiment with different locations.

The groups providing input were “very inclusive,” Sanderson says. They included not just physicians and nurses, but also nearly everyone who will spend time on the floor: consulting physicians, chaplains, different specialists and therapists, and case managers.

“This is where the magic really happened,” Radecki says, as the architects watched the Good Samaritan team explain their daily workflow and processes over the mockup.

Cardboard room mockup

Although the size and number of patient rooms had to remain true to the original plan, staffers were given broad latitude in all other aspects of the design, particularly in the work spaces for providers.  

One change identified early on: moving away from a mirror image of rooms. The previous design meant that staffers first had to think about which side of the building they were on to remember where supplies were stored.

“We saw a lot of wasted time with having to re-orient each time,” Sanderson says, adding that the new supply rooms will all be identical.

Steps traveled was also an important consideration. Supply rooms were moved next to equipment rooms to create a better flow.

Team centers were revised with centralized printers and specimen tube delivery systems, but designed to maintain visibility on the floor while allowing for private conversations. More windows and open areas were also incorporated to increase visibility.

Another change follows a recent trend in hospital design: decentralized nurses’ stations.

After the workshop, the architects went to work on the modifications. The next step was to build a life-sized cardboard mockup of the revised spaces on the empty 8th floor to give staff a chance to critique the design by standing in them.

Once the process was in mockup phase, patient room ergonomics received a deeper look. The computer workstation location was moved to allow providers to chart from the bedside, allowing them to be closer to patients while doing their work.

Locations for every power socket, data port and gas tube were also scrutinized. Smaller restrooms gave space back to the patient and family areas while preserving individual showers. Many alarm controls were moved closer to the door to minimize disruptions.

Functionality for patients and visitors was important, leading to a locker for securing personal items and an out-of-the-way shelf to hold flowers and cards. The visitor area in the rooms received a fold-down table and additional power sockets for convenience.

Ultimately, the revisions were run through a productivity evaluation, and Clark/Kjos determined that the changes should save around 24 minutes of walking time per shift, per nurse, from the original design. The added efficiency should allow staff to convert that time into patient care.

“Wasted time is wasted. We can do something better with it,” says Lescia Myers, director of critical care at Good Samaritan.

The finished floors will add 80 beds to the tower and are projected for completion in summer of 2018.

Dally Tower

Dally Tower has already received accolades for its design, earning The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification by the U.S Green Building Council in 2012 for its sustainable design and features. The tower was the first inpatient hospital facility in the state to earn gold recognition, one of the highest recognitions offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Good Samaritan offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient health care services, including a Family Birth Center, Children's Therapy Unit, a 24-hour Emergency Department and pharmacy, MultiCare Regional Cancer Center, mental health program, surgical services and more. More than 1,600 providers, specialists and employees work on the campus, which serves as a health care hub for more than 300,000 residents of east Pierce County.

Radecki says the team hopes to revisit the floors after their first year in service to see how the design is working out.

“We saw so much benefit in this. We hope this becomes the way we engage our clients in the future,” she says. “It’s an investment but it has exponential benefits.”

“They were really looking at what’s best for that patient: Who do we need to have closest to that patient? I think that’s what everyone had in mind,” Sanderson says. “The goal is that we are connecting better.”

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About The Author

Mark Swart

Mark Swart joined MultiCare Health System after retiring from Army Public Affairs at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wa. He has extensive storytelling and communications experience from operations around the globe. Mark enjoys being active outdoors, whether it is running, sailing, motorcycling or even working in his yard.

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