Is “patient-centered” design becoming a cliché? Some say yes, that the term covers everything these days from warmly hospitable to bare minimalist, depending on the tastes (and budgets) of the sponsors. When a leading faith-based healthcare system commits to defining “patient-centered,” though, it can take on new meaning.
The motto “patients first” was the driving force behind the design conceived for the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Heart Hospital at Kettering Medical Center, which is one of seven hospitals comprising Kettering Adventist Healthcare in Dayton, Ohio. In keeping with a religious denomination known for its emphasis on personal health and wholesome lifestyles, network administrators pushed for design innovation for “the good of the patient.” And they accepted a highly conceptual approach to make it work.
As regular HEALTHCARE DESIGN readers know by now, interior designer Jain Malkin, CID,AAHID, EDAC, directs one of the most conceptual design firms in the business. Malkin and her San Diego-based team at Jain Malkin Inc. have become known for incorporating, and even creating, strikingly original features that enliven the patient/family experience. The 130,000-square-foot Schuster Heart Hospital, a multi-service facility that opened in September 2010, is one of the latest examples of this.
Challenged by the Kettering system to express traditional human and religious values in the new facility, Malkin borrowed from the widely recognized concept of the five elements of nature—earth, wood, fire, water, and metal—to express the Creation theme that underpins the Adventist perspective. The symmetry with the new five-story structure was perfect; each floor could be designed to invoke a particular element of nature, opening up areas of creativity and imagination within each paradigm.
“Overall, we wanted to create a sense of peace and calmness,” says Brenda Kuhn, RN, PhD, Schuster’s director of nursing. “The five elements worked well for that, and we complemented this with the layout of the facility, decentralizing nursing into five pods per floor to bring the nurses closer to patients and families (Figure 1).” The challenge for nurses working in the new setting was huge, says Sally Sterzer, RN, BSN, nurse manager for Schuster 3 East. “Our nurses came from traditional nursing units, and we had to think outside the box to create new processes that would work. Everyone got on board because we emphasized that patients come first—everything we did was structured around that,” she says.