The Ottawa Hospital wants to build better rooms for patients

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The Ottawa Hospital has embarked on a unique effort to design a better hospital room — one that is safer, brighter, quieter, more efficient, accessible and comfortable.

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The hospital formed a series of committees made up of nurses, doctors, infection control experts, patients and family members to inform the work of architect Jason-Emery Groën, who now designs the patient rooms in the new 641-bed $2.8 billion Civic. Campus.

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A member of the engineering and design firm HDR Inc., Groën produced the first schematic designs of the new rooms based on this engagement process.

“We actually discovered some really interesting things along the way,” Groen said in an interview.

First Nations people told him, Groen said, that the ability to see both earth and sky was important to them in the healing process. This same idea has resonated with patients who are confined to beds or who use wheelchairs and have difficulty seeing out of high windows.

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As a result, he said, patient rooms at the new Civic campus will be designed with floor-to-ceiling windows.

The unusual feature will also take advantage of the new hospital’s « phenomenal » natural setting, said Groën, who has worked on dozens of hospitals as design director at HDR.

An architect's rendering of a patient room at The Ottawa Hospital's new Civic Campus features a floor-to-ceiling window, unimpeded access to the patient's bed, a door with a window (to allow staff facility to more easily check on patients), and a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.
An architect’s rendering of a patient room at The Ottawa Hospital’s new Civic Campus features a floor-to-ceiling window, unimpeded access to the patient’s bed, a door with a window (to allow staff facility to more easily check on patients), and a wheelchair-accessible bathroom. The Ottawa Hospital

« I have to say it’s pretty rare in my career to be able to work at a site like this where one patient’s view might be on the Dominion Arboretum, another on the Experimental Farm, and another on the lake. Dow, » he said.

The windows will also provide patients with generous exposure to daylight, which studies have shown can reduce the average length of hospital stays.

Windows will not have blinds or curtains because they are difficult to clean and can be reservoirs for infection-causing microorganisms, such as Clostridium difficile. Instead, Groën said, the windows will use electrochromic glass, sometimes called “smart glass,” which will allow patients to calibrate the window tint using a remote control.

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Lisa Young, the hospital’s senior project planning manager, said the biggest difference for patients will be the level of privacy offered by the new rooms.

“Each patient will have their own room, their own bathroom. It’s one patient, one bathroom, one bedroom,” Young said. “I think it will be the only room that will have a real impact on the patient experience, the family experience, the staff experience, because right now we have very few single rooms in any unit. »

Individual rooms have been proven to significantly reduce the level of nosocomial infections. One study, for example, found that rates of nosocomial infections fell by more than 50% when the Montreal General Hospital redesigned its intensive care unit from shared to private rooms. At the same time, the average length of stay also fell by 10%.

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Staff design committees made a host of suggestions on how to make the rooms more functional, Young said.

« One of the things we’ve heard very clearly from the nurses is that they want to be able to see the patient’s head from the doorway, » she said. « Sightlines are really important for staff: it means they can make sure there’s no problem every time they walk past a room. »

Doors will have glass in them for the same reason.

The rooms will all have two sinks: one in the bathroom for the exclusive use of the patient, and one just inside the door for the use of medical staff and visitors whenever they enter and leave. bedroom.

“Having a dedicated hand hygiene station is essential for infection control,” said Karen Stockton, executive director of planning at the hospital.

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It is estimated that at least 30% of nosocomial infections are preventable since most result from the spread of bacteria from the hands of healthcare workers.

Rooms on the Civic campus were also designed to keep the area immediately around each hospital bed free of furniture so that medical staff can work with patients unimpeded.

A separate area in the bedrooms is being designed for families. « We want the family to be able to be in the room and feel like they’re not in the way, » Stockton said. « Today they often have to go out. »

A piece of furniture in each room unfolds into an extra bed to make it easier for a loved one to spend the night in the hospital.

Bushra Saeed-Khan, a foreign service officer with Global Affairs Canada, spent two months in intensive care at the Civic campus in early 2010 after being repatriated from Afghanistan, where she was seriously injured in an IED bomb attack that killed Calgary Herald reporter Michelle. Lang and four Canadian soldiers.

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« I don’t think people who haven’t been in the hospital system understand how beneficial it is to have family members present, » she said.

Family members not only care for patients, she said, but also play an important role in helping loved ones make complex medical decisions in difficult circumstances.

Saeed-Khan, now a mother of two, was so disoriented during her first weeks in hospital that she could only relax when a family member was near. « Anything that can give you that feeling of comfort is helpful to your recovery, » she said.

The first phase of work on the new Civic Campus is now underway on the 50-acre site near Dows Lake with the construction of a four-story parking garage.

In November, Infrastructure Ontario issued requests for proposals from developers to build the 2.5 million square foot hospital, which is expected to open in 2028.

  1. A 2021 file image of The Ottawa Hospital's new Civic Campus design plans shows the main entrance and a research facility.

    Call for proposals issued for new Civic Hospital campus

  2. The parking lot for the new Ottawa Civic Hospital will be the first phase of a massive development requiring government approval.

    Ottawa Planning Committee approves 4-storey parking garage on site of new Dows Lake Hospital

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