The Neurosciences Critical Care Unit at Emory University Hospital has been selected as the recipient of the prestigious 2008 ICU Design Citation Award.
The award is co-sponsored by the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) and the American Institute of Architects Academy on Architecture for Health (AIA). An expert panel of physicians, nurses and architects judged the entries. Additionally, Emory also was named an "honorable mention" for the Patient-Centered Care Award, also presented by SCCM.
"Emory set out to ensure that each patient and their family members have the best outcome possible, and we designed an intensive care unit that capitalizes on the remarkable medical technology available and the expertise of our medical team," says John T. Fox, president and CEO of Emory Healthcare. "With this state-of-the-art facility, Emory sets the standard - locally and nationally, for neuro critical care, and I am very pleased that our combined efforts, which played an integral part in the design and creation of the unit, have been recognized by this prestigious honor."
Early in 2007, Emory opened its new 20-bed, neurosciences ICU that allows for centralization of the most critical medical services for patients suffering from severe neurological trauma -- including severe brain injury, tumors, infections, strokes and aneurysms. It also provides an unparalleled level of comfort and convenience, and most importantly, the integration of family members who wish to remain near their loved ones.
"This award recognizes the vast talents and vision that went into the conception, design and eventual opening of what we believe is one of the premiere centers for neuroscience care in the country," says Owen Samuels, MD, director of neuroscience critical care at Emory. "The entire design of the new unit was created in order to make the patient and family top of mind and central to the entire unit's mission. There is a large body of current research that links the quality of a health care facility's physical environment to both patient outcomes and staff efficiency. The plans for the unit incorporate core principles of evidence based, patient and family-centered design--a holistic approach that focuses on the patient's physical environment as a tool to facilitate healing."
All 20 patient suites were designed and built around those evidence-based design principles, using research to determine how attributes of a healthcare environment can affect not only the patient's outcome, but also clinical staff effectiveness and satisfaction for the patients' families. They were created with sufficient space to perform complex procedures at the bedside, minimizing the need to transport fragile patients across the hospital.
The patient suites are large enough to include a separate family living area, partitioned off with a wall and glass block window that will include reclining chairs or pullout sofas to allow family members to stay with the patient inside the room -- keeping them steps from their loved one, while maintaining 24 hour access to the patient and care team. Additionally, every room includes wireless Internet access, television and a table.
Dr. Samuels and Emory formed a unique collaboration with Craig Zimring, an environmental psychologist and professor in the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech for assist with the redesign.
"This recognition is a victory for evidence-based design, and a testament to collaborative thinking," says Zimring. "We explored research linking design to quality and safety outcomes; reviewed past prize winners of Society of Critical Care of Medicine Design competitions for exemplary models; and interviewed Emory healthcare professionals, patients and families to improve conditions through design. This process is unusual in that it sets specific measurable goals for each design driver."
Emory's new unit is one of the largest and busiest in the U.S., and one of only a few of this type of unit in the Southeast. The unit is staffed by neurointensivists (neurologists specially trained in critical care), neurosurgeons, and a dedicated team of critical care nurses, nurse practitioners and pharmacists. Although the new unit is four times the size of other ICUs at Emory University Hospital, nurses staff have much improved vision and observation of each patient room because the design incorporates studies of the clinical and physician staff patterns, and the appropriate type of work stations.
Thoughtfully designed nurse station alcoves, adjust to patient rooms, provide a direct line of sight for all patients and minimize the transfer of charting noise, while increasing patient and staff comfort and quick access to information and telecommunications. The unit also combines the ultimate in medical technology and incorporates many home-like features for patient family members - including showers, a kitchen and laundry facilities.
"From conception and design to implementation, our mission was and still is very much about catering to the emotional, spiritual and physical requirements of our patients' loved ones -- treating them as part of the team and not as visitors," says Dr. Samuels.