The Nurse's Voice Using Evidence-Based Design in Construction

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Jan Nash, PhD, MSN, RN
Administration, Paoli Hospital, Paoli, PA

Learning Objective 1: Using research in a health care construction project

Learning Objective 2: Review how nurses can impact their physical environment to provide better care for their patients.

Hospital construction has been slowed by the current economy. Despite the economic climate, the majority of healthcare organizations today are  engaged in some type of construction project.  Nurse executives’ primary responsibilities include oversight of operations and strategies for care. Within these responsibilities, nurse executives focus on enhancing quality and safety and supporting the nursing workforce that delivers the care. 
What are the best strategies to accomplish this into a construction project?  Similar to the evidence that practitioners use to make clinical decisions, there is research available that shows patient outcomes, safety, satisfaction, and staff safety can be improved by re-design of the healthcare physical environment.
The purposes of this presentation are to describe how a nurse executive included nurses, as future users, in a hospital building project and to discuss the lessons learned and outcomes from the perspective of the nursing staff. Their involvement from the beginning of developing new hospitals or renovation, can positively influence the project.  Few architects have clinical staff on their team. Architects and nursing speak different languages, and thus creating a shared vision is not always an easy task. To be successful, the design process must be an opportunity to establish greater efficiency by customizing the space for each program while still leaving opportunities for flexibility for the future. 
In addition, creating a culture of safety for patients is essential in building projects.  Preserving the health of our nursing workforce is paramount and must be considered during the project. Hospitals are building environments to be safer, more efficient, more accessible, more natural and more supportive of healing – no one can speak to this better than nurses. Although nurses are best known for the care they give to their patients, they can be of equal value in designing the environment where that care will be delivered.