Among the completed projects at Architectural Innovations, we are especially proud of the Emergency Department Expansion and Renovations Project that has taken place. We would like to share some thoughts on how changes in the physical space of the Emergency Department (ED) can improve patient outcomes.
The primary goal of this project was to make changes throughout the ED that would create an improved flow for patients as they move from the waiting area to the treatment rooms and beyond. An emphasis was placed on accommodating the stated needs of emergency room staff so that they can fulfill their roles with greater efficiency.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, several factors cause delays in treatment. Those factors include changed protocols, overcrowding, insufficient space, inadequate staffing levels and poor coordination between hospital departments. By improving the physical space where doctors, nurses and other staff perform their work, we believe that it is possible to have a direct impact on patient outcomes.
From Triage to Treatment
In many cases, patients who have already waited to see a doctor in the waiting area go on to encounter another round of waiting once they have been evaluated and are ready to be treated. That can cause a patient logjam of sorts, and can negatively impact the flow of other patients in and out of the ED. This creates a vicious cycle, with patients stuck in ED beds while people in the waiting room stand by to take those spots.
Through thoughtful planning, it is possible to create efficient flow of spaces where patients who are waiting to be admitted can rest, while medical staff can tend to the needs of others.
Improving the Experience for Everyone
A visit to the emergency room is never on anyone's to-do list and is already a stressful experience. Through careful design, renovated ER waiting areas allow patients and their families to have access to electrical outlets, designated work spaces and even tables where they can have a meal or allow kids to start their homework while they wait to be seen by a doctor. Research suggests that when patients and families have access to well-designed waiting areas, they report a higher level of satisfaction with their entire ER experience.
Improving Specialized Treatment Areas
A big part of the project involved the reconfiguration of the existing Physical Therapy department. The design features a new drop-off area and special entrance for PT patients, which improved the traffic flow into the building. Housekeeping and administrative areas were relocated to expand the treatment areas, and the layout of the treatment area was revised to increase efficiency and function.