You want a hospital stay to be pleasant — and easy on your visitors.
Kelley Porter, director of communications at the Nebraska Hospital Association, said the state's hospitals “are continuously taking strides to make the hospital stay comfortable for patients and families, (with rooms) designed to respect the privacy and dignity of patients, and enhanced to include family spaces.”
Knowing about facility design and renovations, the healing environment and advances in food service will help you decide which hospital to use among those offering top medical care.
Hospitals serving all patient groups in Omaha have been renovating. At Children's Hospital & Medical Center, “all floors have a theme — underwater, nature, stars and moon” to greet children on their way in and during their stay, said Family Resources Manager Terry Patterson. Local schoolchildren provide most of the artwork.
Children's five playrooms on as many floors are for inpatients, outpatient surgery and hematology/oncology infusion center patients, Patterson said. The eight-month-old “Kid's Camp” welcomes siblings.
Patterson said that in Kid's Camp, there are two Wii walls; a Thomas the Tank Engine set; a big playhouse with stove, kitchen, dishwasher and vacuum cleaner; puzzles; quiet areas for reading books or watching movies; blocks; and a hopscotch area.
Methodist Women's Hospital designed its facility with a snow- and ice-free heated driveway.
“Our facility is extremely feminine, with labor and delivery rooms that look like hotel rooms,” said Sue Korth, the hospital's vice president and COO. “Equipment allowing physicians to examine new babies without taking them to the nursery is hidden. We have recliners and sofas that fold out to a comfortable bed in Labor and Delivery, Post-Partum and Neonatal ICU. Sofas in NICU unfold into a double bed so both parents can stay if the baby is critical and parents want to be nearby.” Internet access, a flat-screen television and a CD or DVD player are among other amenities.
The Nebraska Medical Center has remodeled a number of floors, following techniques of evidenced-based design “to increase patient safety and decrease medical errors,” said Kathy Bauer, director of facilities management and planning.
New, uniform layouts for door handles, the location of the patient's head and the placement of equipment, called “same-handedness,” help achieve these objectives.
A healing environment supports the medical team. At Creighton University Medical Center, the soft, warm tones are inviting.
“We wanted to create a space that the family would be comfortable in and tried to design rooms in three sections — caregiver space, patient space, family space,” said facility administrator Carol McCormick.
“Every Patient Is My Patient,” a program at Lakeside Hospital, empowers all staff members to answer a call light, whether they're working in housekeeping, food service, engineering, volunteer service or nursing, said Cindy Alloway, vice president and COO of Lakeside Hospital. If they can't fulfill the request, they go to the patient's nurse.
The Oasis, situated inside the oncology unit at Lakeside, brings “peaceful, calming space with the feel and look of the outdoors with a skylight and natural greenery,” Alloway said. The environment enables cancer patients and their visitors to step out of the clinical setting.
For privacy, cardiac and coronary care patients have single rooms.
Creighton, like Alegent, welcomes support people, with round-the-clock visiting hours.
“We ask the patient to tell us who the support person is, and we try to make accommodation for that person to be here all night,” she said.
For aromatherapy, Alegent bakes fresh bread every morning. The scent greets people when they get off the elevator, Alloway said.
Nebraska Medical Center's Bauer points out that “the acoustical monitors outside of patient rooms encourage staff to be aware of noise level. That's been a focus in neonatal for years and we've moved it to the adult floor.” She also said the focus on exterior views maximizes natural light.
Some hospitals, such as Methodist Women's and the Nebraska Medical Center, offer around-the-clock food service to patients and visitors.
“Everything is cooked to order and served in 45 minutes or less,” said Jaime Rosales, senior patient services manager at the Nebraska Medical Center. “The food is fresh, retaining color and nutritional value.” Sodexo, the vendor, uses software which assures that patient requests meet doctors' requirements.
“Patients get part of their daily lives back,” Rosales said. “They have no control (over their treatment) but can eat when they want. It's a patient-satisfier.”
Methodist Women's Hospital serves hot chocolate-chip cookies at 4 p.m. daily. Every afternoon, Alegent treats visitors in waiting areas to fresh-baked cookies.
Mildred L. Culp is a syndicated columnist and freelance writer.