Georgia Trend December 2009 : Page 58

number to exceed $30 billion or $40 billion a year in the next few decades. Much of the bricks and mortar will be config- ured in a holistic way as designers and architects move beyond outmoded boxes built around scary-looking technol- ogy, beyond institutional décor, embracing evidence-based designs. Even the military is following that route, says Zimring. Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture has been working with the Military Health System (MHS), which has 59 hospi- tals and 800 clinics worldwide. They’re planning to spend more than $2 billion just to replace Walter Reed Military Hospital. “The MHS is committed to world-class, patient-centered care and our work on evidence-based design is being used,” Zimring says. “Everything is much more focused toward people, toward patients and families and staff, than 20 years ago,” says architect Norman Morgan of Texas-based firm HKS, which has made a specialty of healthcare design and has established an ample footprint in Georgia, where hospital expansions are combining aes- thetics and functionality with an emphasis on the humans who inhabit these spaces. Family Ties Any parent whose child has spent time in a hospital, any husband whose wife has had to stay, knows the dance, the get-out-of-our-way dance. For decades hospitals discouraged fam- ily involvement with a patient’s hospital care, especially in intensive care units. And hospi- tals were built accordingly – very little space for extra people. Families and friends were banished to tense waiting rooms. But reams of research have shown that patient outcomes improve with family involve- ment. Who better to advocate on a patient’s behalf? Hospital designers have responded by cre- ating environments that support a family’s involvement in the caregiving process, though it still takes some inducing for clinicians who have been weaned in the old ways. When HKS was in the process of designing the North Patient Tower at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Morgan’s team spent a lot of time interacting with staff at the Gainesville hospital. “We wanted to provide a different environ- ment than what they were used to, an environ- ment that would promote family inclusion,” Morgan says. “That was a big culture change for the ICU, because the staff didn’t want fam- ilies in the room.They wanted the families any- where else.” 58 I DECEMBER 2009 I GeorgiaTrend The staff wasn’t aware of any other way, says Carol Burrell, chief operating officer of Northeast Georgia Health System Inc. It was another example of, “Well, this is the way we’ve always done it!” But “the way we’ve always done it” was not the patient- centered approach. “There definitely was a mindset on the part of the clinical staff of keeping the family away,” Burrell says. “But we spent a lot of time looking at evidence-based outcomes that demonstrate the family’s role actually helps the patient.We went through a series of site visits and talking with other facilities that have gone through the same kind of process. “Through those experiences we were able to demonstrate that family involvement, having the family close by, not only led to a better patient experience, but improved communica- By Design: Georgia Tech professor Craig Zimring is part of a research movement that has shown better hospital design can lead to better patient outcomes ADAM KOMICH

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