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Lehigh Valley Hospital, Muhlenberg, Family Care Pavilion, Bethlehem, PA

June 2018
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
Private NICU Rooms from Care Team Perspective, Erdman/Andrew Harris, June 2017


Firm's Role on the Project: To create a patient-centered experience by incorporating evidence-based design.

EBD Goal

Lehigh Valley Hospital aimed to create a patient-centered experience by incorporating evidence-based design to improve outcomes and increase satisfaction for patients, families, and staff. More broadly, the project increased access to healthcare for women and children in the community, as well as patients requiring inpatient rehabilitation services.


The Family Care Pavilion on the Muhlenberg Campus is a 163,000 square-foot addition to the Lehigh Valley Hospital. The four-story pavilion includes an inpatient rehabilitation unit on the first floor; obstetrics (labor and delivery) on the second floor; and both postpartum services and a level II NICU on the third floor. The project also made obstetrics and rehabilitation care available to a community that previously had none.


The desire to deliver a patient-centered experience led the system to adopt new operational and staffing models, such as private rooms (including the NICU) and integrated care team (ICT) models. These changes required extensive work sessions with patient and family advocacy groups, as well as staff members. Full-scale mock-ups and rapid prototyping sessions helped users visualize the proposed environments of care and provide feedback.

Lehigh Valley Hospital Network explored multiple planning options for the project. To ensure an efficient and effective project delivery process, they decided to implement single-source project delivery—the first such initiative for the organization on a project of this size and complexity.

Placing and fitting the Family Care Pavilion on this site was another challenge due to the position of the existing buildings, their varied architectural features, and the infrastructure on the campus. Site development work connected the new pavilion to the hospital and enhanced patient access by establishing a private entry for patients and a covered entry for ambulances.


The design solution included all-private rehabilitation and obstetric care rooms, including the NICU. Additionally, both programs provide amenities for families during daytime visits, overnight and extended stays, including lounge and activity spaces, medical education spaces, sleeping areas, and a café. Alternative birthing options are also accommodated. Patient bathrooms in the labor and delivery unit feature hydrotherapy showers, and additional space was allocated at bedsides to allow family participation. All patient care spaces have access to daylight and nature views, and an outdoor garden space was developed for all patients and for rehabilitation activities based upon a review of research.

An integrated care team model was introduced to both departments, along with ICT workspaces, to enhance collaboration between caregivers and increase operational efficiency (e.g., reducing travel distances and consolidating staff). Support service spaces were organized using Lean principles to reduce time spent searching for supplies while standardizing methods to organize, sort and display supplies. Staff can also access offstage respite areas for recharging and reflection.


When the Family Care Pavilion opened its doors in June 2017, the all-private room model and hospitality amenities were well-received by patients and families. Admissions have exceeded the organization’s goal, and staff within the health system have shown interest in transferring to the new site (citing the ICT model and staff amenities as substantial draws).

Post-occupancy evaluations and user group surveys will be conducted at the one, three, and five-year marks to measure the project’s success against the metrics established during planning and design. Some of the metrics to be tracked include patient satisfaction, provider retention, noise complaints, footsteps per provider, and patient wait times.

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