Hospital rooms are not exactly where anyone wants to spend their time, but for those who have no choice, Toronto East General Hospital is trying to make sure that patients have a say in their surroundings.
The hospital at the corner of Coxwell and Mortimer avenues has opened up mock-ups of the rooms that are going into the new “Patient Care Tower” that’s being built on the site. The mockups are designed to test out everything before the rooms are actually built.
Kirsten Martin, the hospital’s director of clinical operations and transitions showed off the rooms in a private tour.
“We have three mock-ups in this room and two on another level,” Martin said. “There’s an exam room, an inpatient private room, semi-private inpatient room and one of our mental heath inpatient rooms.”
One room is divided into three zones. For example, the family zone, which includes a sleeper couch, aims to have a comfortable space for family members and caregivers to stay with the patient on overnights.
The rooms also have a lot of IT devices that allow patients to use not only cable TV, but Skype and touch-ordering of food. They can even watch the exercises a physiotherapist may want them to do.
The mock-ups also have design elements to prevent things like falls.
“We don’t want our patients falling, so we have things like a rail to hold onto on their way to the washroom; nightlights on the floor; and the floors have a lot more friction, so it’s anti-slip,” Martin said.
These mock-ups are an important step before creating the actual buildings, which are very costly. Simulating the facilities that will be repeated most often throughout the tower is one way for the hospital to make sure it has the design right.
Building the rooms is one part; the next step is actually testing them out. During the past two months, the hospital ran what’s called “simulations and scenario-care testing,” where they tested care processes and had multidisciplinary teams come to do functions such as transferring fake patients and performing biopsies.
TEGH has also held open houses and received feedback from the community, staff (including janitors) and patients.
“Everybody matters, so you take every level of stakeholder and you review all the comments, and then we re-fix the design based on evidence-based design practices,” Martin said.
Mock-ups have been a success for other hospitals, such as St. Michael’s, Joseph Brant and Humber River. It used to be something only academic health science centres would do, but now community hospitals are also including them as part of their development.
“This is a really important way that hospitals engage the people who use the space to make sure that we’re building what they want,” Martin said. “This is critical for making sure that those important spaces are right, because the investment to do this now, you’ll end up building a facility that you love and that’s a good legacy piece for the hospital.”