Improving intensive care environments

Promoting healing, well-being and safety through evidence-based design

The typical image of an Intensive Care Unit is hectic, impersonal and utilitarian. In designing spaces at the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Heart and Vascular Institute, VOA looked at ways of redefining the Intensive Care Environment as a place for healing where family would be a part of the care and technologically-enhanced monitoring and security would enhance overall safety. Various improved strategies for approaching intensive care have been in works for years. What sets our work at OLOL RMC apart is how we have drawn on all the best practices regarding intensive care diligently, then incorporated a new layered nursing model as well as the latest technology in virtual care capabilities. It’s the culmination of these design and planning features coupled with operational goals that make this intensive care environment special.

This month our design work will be recognized as Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Heart and Vascular Institute receives the 2015 ICU Design Citation Award cosponsored by Society of Critical Care Medicine, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and AIA Academy on Architecture for Health. The award recognizes the design of the intensive care units at OLOL RMC in Baton Rouge as the most innovative and humanitarian in the United States.

Terrie P. Sterling, Chief Operating Officer for OLOL RMC sums up the design with this endorsement. “The design allows our clinical team to operate at the highest level of care and provide the best treatment for the patients we serve every day. We set out to build an intensive care unit that is both technologically superior and exceptional in its capacity to make patients and family members comfortable, and in partnership with the architecture firm VOA Associates, we are proud to be acknowledged on the national stage for this achievement. With the intensive care environment at Heart and Vascular Institute, Our Lady of the Lake has demonstrated its commitment to create a healing environment, promote safety and security, and utilize advanced design and technology for our most seriously ill patients.”

In designing new Intensive Care Environments for the non-profit Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, VOA employed a range of evidence-based design principles and techniques to enhance patient care and well-being, quality and safety, efficiency and flexibility.

Today, we’re looking at each of these principles and the design features that enhance each in OLOL RMC.

1. Create a patient- and family-centered environment

The design of the medical and surgical intensive care environments at Our Lady of the Lake RMC harvests natural light and sets the stage for family support to promote the healing process.

Enhanced-size patient rooms in the intensive care environment have comfortable, hospitality-inspired amenities such as 10-foot ceilings and private toilets as well as diversions such as flat-panel televisions. Designated family zones are furnished with recliners and sleeper sofas for rest and social contact between family and patients. Ample natural light is available via large windows that span the length of patient rooms. Patient rooms are placed in close proximity to resources including a spacious and well-furnished family lounge as well as dining options. Multiple conference rooms are placed in each unit allowing for private communication among care teams and with family members.

2. Improve the quality and safety of healthcare delivery

Technology and visual connections enhance monitoring by caregivers, increase quality of care, shortening response time and promoting safety.

A layered nursing layout features two L-shaped pods within a U-shaped floor layout, each with 12 ICU beds. Nurse monitoring stations are located outside each ICU room for visual connection, 1:1 or 1:2 nursing and immediate access for team members. These are backed-up by nursing stations at each end of the pod. A Mobile Virtual Critical Care (MVCC) room (“the bunker”) monitors all the rooms with high resolution video and conferencing. This multilayered monitoring system allows intensive care team members to react quickly and effectively in critical situations.

These enhanced monitoring systems are designed to reduce medication errors, length of stay, noise and episodes of delirium.

Patient rooms are equipped with the latest technology for safe and effective patient care, including booms suspended from the ceiling which allow for convenient management of cables and lines and movement of patient beds in an environment that’s equipment intensive. Enclosed patient toilets have the benefit of additional infection control.

3. Support care for the whole person, enhanced by contact with nature and positive distractions

Saint Francis of Assisi continues to inspire the Franciscan order which operates OLOL RMC. In the 13th Century, Francis wrote The Canticle of the Sun which thanks God for “Brother Fire” and “Sister Water.”

The décor in patient areas promotes comfort through a soothing earth tone palette, images of nature in wall art, painting and sculpture by regional and national artists and accent pieces inspired by the institution’s mission and reflective of “Sister Water,” which expresses healing, humility and purity.

Wall-to-wall windows in patient rooms feature two levels of shading controllable by patients, enabling them to adjust for privacy and access to natural light as needed. An outside healing garden serves as a tranquil resting place for family, visitors and staff with seating, waterfalls and attractive landscaping.

Patient-centered design also means innovative elements like noise-reducing corridor layouts and the absence of lighting on the ceiling (it’s wall-mounted) to prevent harsh direct illumination.

4. Create a positive work environment

Safety and efficiency as well as collaboration among the intensive care team members are paramount features in the design. A multimedia conference room is available on each floor for the intensive care team members.

Onstage and offstage corridors allow for efficient patients/families and intensive care workflow. A “megavator” (oversized elevator) makes safe and efficient transport of patients with equipment possible. Dedicated sinks in patient rooms allow team member’s to wash hands without waiting.

5. Design for maximum standardization and future flexibility and growth

The design includes an additional floor on the top of the building for further expansion.

The standardized room size in the intensive care environment, the stacking of intensive care locations , location of utilities and standard FFE (movable furniture, fixtures and equipment) throughout including modular casework all led themselves to lower maintenance and maximum flexibility.

While accent colors in interior finish palettes give the spaces the personality of customized spaces, in fact, the interiors are modular and easily adaptable. This enhances maintenance and long-term financial sustainability of the operation.

Take a video tour of the OLOL RMC intensive care environment.

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