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Combining Comfort with Evidence-Based Design

April 2015
Author: Lisa Ellis

In today’s demanding healthcare marketplace, your design choices need to do double duty. They need to reflect your mission to prevent the transmission of germs in your facility while also incorporating a patient-centered care approach to help people feel at home in your units.

But this raises a serious question: Can safety and comfort co-exist? The answer is a resounding “yes.” Many modern facilities are finding creative ways to integrate both missions seamlessly so patients and staff reap the full benefits.

One such example is Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlotte, Virginia, where the staff has found a strong middle ground between comfort and safety. They rely on an array of evidence-based design practices to help stop the spread of illness, and they do this within the framework of a facility designed to appeal to patients and their families and make them feel like partners in their care.

Some of the environmental choices they have made that can help reduce infection transmission include:

  • Creating private patient rooms to reduce exposure to germs from other patients

  • Installing sinks and hand dispensers in convenient locations throughout the facility to help promote proper hand-washing practices among staff and visitors

  • Offering enough space in patient rooms to allow necessary medical equipment to be stored, and to prevent it from becoming contaminated with other patients’ germs

  • Storing clean and soiled linens in separate rooms

  • Creating separate doorways for sterile equipment and used equipment so there is no chance that the soiled items contaminate those that have not yet been used

Better yet, this practical approach to infection control embraces an array of thoughtful design elements. In fact, the hospital blends rich colors and materials to create a warm and welcoming feel in patient spaces and hallways. It also goes to great lengths to incorporate nature through generous windows, walking paths, and even a rooftop garden.

When you combine all of these components together, you have the recipe for a safe and nurturing environment designed to minimize risks and encourage patients to focus on getting better.


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