The plans for Utica’s future hospital call for one emergency room with a “quick-turn” area to treat minor injuries, a separate “pod” for behavioral health patients and all private rooms.
The Mohawk Valley Health System showed off a cardboard mock-up of a patient room in the emergency room of its planned new hospital Tuesday and unveiled some of the principles governing the ER’s design.
The overall goal is “creating an environment that the patient feels calm in and knows they’re getting exceptional care,” said Janet Susi, a former nurse and health care planner with architectural firm NBBJ, which is designing the hospital.
The cardboard room, covered with sticky notes labeled with room features and containing a mock cardboard bed in the middle, lets designers and hospital staff figure out the most effective and efficient layout. The design will be revisited for staff input on a regular basis during the design process and eventually re-created accurately to train staff before the new hospital opens, Susi said.
Many of the spaces in the new hospital are receiving similar treatment to achieve a space that works for patients, families and staff.
In the emergency department, a big feature is universality, so that any patient can be cared for in any room, Susi said. Another big point is standardization so everything is located in the same place in every room, making it easy for providers to work efficiently in different rooms, she said.
The design of the future definitely is a big contrast to existing conditions, Susi said.
“It’s amazing how they have been able to still deliver care and do it well in such a tight environment,” she said.
Will better design actually translate to better patient care?
Yes, said Dr. Avinash Kambhampati, assistant medical director of emergency services, who said he planned to spend some time on the mock-up to make sure the room will work.
“It can give us much more efficient health care that will be faster, cheaper, that will help us attract more physicians,” he said. “This is something we can use to attract more ER staff. We can use it to attract more surgeons and attract more younger doctors who are going to eventually live here, work here, raise a family here.”
The mock-up already contains some big improvements, Kambhampati said. Right now, the air supply, the oxygen and the vacuum in the existing ER rooms are too close together so staff can’t use the vacuum, which requires a canister, he said. The mock-up has moved them farther apart so the vacuum will be usable.
And there are sharps disposal boxes on both sides of the room, meaning staff can dispose of needles and other sharps without having to walk across the room, Kambhampati said. He also pointed to sticky notes identified as chairs for family members, saying that there will be more room to make patients’ relatives comfortable.
Here are some more planned feature for the emergency department of the new hospital being designed for downtown Utica, according to officials and signs in the ER mock-up:
* A behavioral health area with rooms that keep patients safe and allow for easy monitoring by staff. The rooms would have the same layout as other rooms so they could be used for other patients, but a “garage door” would cover medical gases and other standard features that could pose a danger to mental health patients.
* The quick-turn area will be particularly useful for children who tend to come in just needing an X-ray to make sure no bones are broken.
* A 10-bed observation area will house patients who don’t need to be admitted, but who should be watched overnight.
* Design will create less noise and chaos.
* There will be separate entrances for walk-in patients and emergency medical services.
* Imaging services will be located close to the trauma center.
* Staff will have easy, fast access to supplies.
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