Getting back to normal

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital’s new West Addition therapy wing invigorates staff and guides families back to life at home

By Brenda M. Bush-Moline, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, EDAC and Kent Davidson, AIA

The goal of rehabilitation is to return a patient to a normal life in a timely manner and in the best health possible. In designing the new West Addition Hospital at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, VOA incorporated features that prepare those recovering and their families for returning to life at home as well as invigorate medical and support care team members and allow flexibility for physicians regarding treatment pathways.

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI recently unveiled a new $42 million hospital building, the West Addition Hospital. Patients moved into the building addition on March 29. The addition features private rooms for those undergoing rehabilitation and additional leading-edge rehabilitation technology. It promotes interaction among those being served and care team members. With the expansion, Mary Free Bed is the fifth largest rehabilitation hospital in the country. Three inpatient floors feature 167 inpatient beds and four times the previous amount of therapy space. The new hospital building is the first phase of a $66.4 million expansion and renovation project at Mary Free Bed campus. Mary Free Bed has introduced new rehabilitation programs customized for debilitated patients and those with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cardiac or pulmonary conditions.

3rd floor Model

Interior design
The interior design of the new space supports messages of “hope,” freedom, drive, support and inspiration.” Evidence-based design practices were employed throughout the interiors to facilitate rehabilitation and well-being for those rehabilitating, care team members and family. The new facility provides ample natural light, a rooftop terrace and is outfitted with natural materials to promote healing. Healthy materials such as linoleum were used to promote environmental wellness while meeting strict maintenance and durability requirements. Public spaces are warm and inviting, encouraging recovery and promoting social interaction amongst patients as well as their guests. Space is efficiently allocated; corridors function as both gallery space and rehabilitation space.

Key features:

  • Provides enhanced access to natural light
  • Rooftop terrace outdoor space access in the spring, summer, and fall; use by therapists as non-traditional therapy

Two types of high-tech ceiling-mounted lifts are available for patients who are learning to walk again; research shows that those in rehabilitation that don’t worry about falling, work harder and recover faster.The floor design features regularly spaced transitions so that the care team can ‘count’ how far patients progress towards light-filled ‘lanterns’ at the end of each hallway. Gallery white walls for guest’s artwork, produced as a part of Mary Free Bed’s successful healing arts program, are accented by saturated colors –red, green, blue and orange–at patient room portals. Careful attention was paid to acoustics, safety, comfortable lighting reducing glare and durability.

Key features:

  • Multiple therapy gyms on every floor; some are specialized such as the low-stimulation gym for brain injury therapy and a gym just for stroke therapy with direct access to vision exam room and private treatment rooms

Patient-centered care

Private rooms promote patient- and family- centered care, better sleep and therefore recovery. These are designed as retreats, featuring natural imagery and soft colors.  Natural light, homelike features such as fireplaces, social areas, and various other amenities inspire guests and promote healing. The new facility features a floor for each rehabilitation service (brain, stroke, spine) at the hospital. The third floor incorporates a gym, day space, roof garden and ADL (Activities of Daily Living) space. ADL simulates a home environment and gives families a chance to practice and get experience and instruction on care.

Key features:

  • ADL (Activities of Daily Living) apartments offer the opportunity for those recuperating and their families to try “Real Life” scenarios
  • Daytime social space areas that invites families and visitors into a home-like setting with a TV and sofas, as well as an entrance to the rooftop terrace
  • All-private rooms
  • Expansive windows for access to natural light with provisions for controlling glare and temperature
  • Hand washing within sight of caregiver, substation, patient, and family
  • Patient care zone designated patient/clinical and family zones reflecting model of family-centered care
  • A solarium area to offer a peaceful quiet area
  • Full-size sleeper sofa for overnight visits from family and friends
  • Enclosed ADA compliant private toilet
  • 42” TV placed within a comfortable viewing height
  • A place to locate / charge a wheelchair
  • A secured storage unit for personal belongings

MFB_Patient Room

Supporting staff
Care team member touchdown and therapy areas are decentralized, allowing therapists to spend more time with those being rehabilitated. Service areas are centralized and provide access from both sides while seating alcoves provide space for care team members to reinvigorate. Rehabilitation work requires supporting patients as they regain their strength and ability. This can be draining for nurses and care professionals. Our design features ceiling lifts in corridors which assist in supporting activities and movement. Throughout, special attention was paid to reducingfalls and care team member fatigue. Private exam rooms are available on each floor. Physicians can use flexible office spaces for work or private consultation.

Key features:

  • Decentralized nursing and therapy zones so nurses and therapists will be able to spend more time with patients
  • Care team member charting areas for every six rooms
  • High-tech ceiling-mounted lifts at corridors for those who are learning to walk again
  • Ceiling Lift Track to assist with transfers and mobility
  • Orthotics / Prosthetics Private Exam Treatment room located on the floor

All these smart design choices, technology and innovation are about making a difference to the 3,000 additional patients the West Addition will serve annually.

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