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St. Joseph's Community Hospital

West Bend, WI

St. Joseph’s is the world’s first hospital designed to reduce medical error. The 80-bed, $55-million replacement hospital opened in August 2005.


Architectural firm Gresham, Smith and Partners designed the hospital with patient safety as the guiding principle. Standardized rooms allow doctors and nurses to react quicker in emergency situations. Nurse stations are placed so that all patients are visible. Filters and ultraviolet devices trap and kill germs for cleaner airflow.


Other features include sound-absorbing tiles that make rooms quieter, special lights that simulate natural light for better diagnoses, bathrooms that are located near the bed to prevent falls and nonslip flooring that keep patients and staff safe throughout the hospital.


As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “evidence suggests that infection rates, injuries from falls and medication errors are lower than at the old facility.” It is expected that over the next year, the average length of stay will decline as much as half a day—freeing up beds more quickly and allowing St. Joseph’s to serve more patients.