The comforts of home in a hospital


One patient, one doctor, and one vision came together in 1996 to create a place unlike any that had come before at Emory University Hospital.

The patient wasn't just any patient. He was John Rollins, a self-made North Georgia businessman who owned and operated 12 businesses by the time he was 35. The doctor wasn't just any doctor. He was Paul Seavey, known as "the doctor that all doctors wanted to have as a doctor." And the vision was a large one: to develop a hospital environment where comfort matched world-class care, where patients could heal in a place more like home.

Today, the John W. Rollins Pavilion ranks first in patient satisfaction out of 1,080 hospital units in the nation, according to Press Ganey. And the pavilion has served more than 5,000 patients, from a U.S. president and celebrities to ordinary families.

Reminiscent of rooms in a deluxe hotel, the pavilion's 11 V.I.P. suites provide guests with meticulous care and elegant surroundings. Each suite features a patient room and separate sitting room with cherry wood furniture, dining table, sleeper sofa, and an entertainment center. While being near loved ones, families of patients can continue to transact business from the suite with wireless internet access, an in-room fax machine, and daily delivery of the Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A concierge takes care of special requests, and chefs cook up personalized meals.

"The facilities are nice," says Emory internist Dave Roberts, who trained under Seavey, "but what really makes the Rollins Pavilion distinct is the nursing care."

One of those nurses, Trish Archer, often worked alongside Seavey and now manages the pavilion. An Emory veteran of 26 years, her experience is typical of that of the RNs in the unit. Half have critical care experience, and all have worked in surgical and post-op areas.

"Emory Healthcare has launched new initiatives in patient- and family-centered care," says Irene Wheeler, an Emory nurse for 30 years and unit director of the pavilion, "but we've been leading the way on that for 10 years. We're experts on it." That care comes through staff readily available for families, a space that offers more privacy than a typical hospital room, and a low ratio of 1 nurse for every 3 patients.

Michele Rollins, John's widow, has taken an active part in the pavilion, most recently donating cabinetry to update the original wing. Other family members, Randall and Peggy Rollins, have contributed toward decorating and refurbishing. And Molly Candler, wife of the late C. Howard "Buddy" Candler III, recently bought new high-tech patient beds, which readjust air automatically when a patient moves to help prevent bedsores.

Recently, generations of the Rollins and Seavey families gathered for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to Rollins and Seavey, men with vision for generations of Emory patients and families to come. —Rhonda Mullen

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