South Florida Hospital News
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January 2011 - Volume 7 - Issue 7

Patient Bed Tower Plan: A Blend of Expertise and Compassion

One would be hard pressed to find a parent who wouldn’t do anything in their power to help their children. However, when a critical illness reduces parental control, moms and dads across Florida’s 67 counties can still rely on Miami Children’s Hospital as they have over the past 60 years.

Now, under the guidance of thoughtful administrators and planners like Nancy Humbert, ARNP, MSN, Chief Hospitality Officer and Senior Vice President, Strategic Business Planning and Public Affairs, and Robert Nowlan, Vice President Facilities, Planning, Design & Construction, an expert team is embarking on a new project to cement this compassionate care in the future.
Miami Children's Hospital is beginning construction of a 6 story Patient Bed Tower housing 135 private rooms located on the west side of the main hospital building. The project will be approximately 180,000 square feet and due to its landlocked location, it will go upwards rather than outwards. The 135 rooms will not however, result in any change the hospital’s number of licensed beds. It will specifically serve to enhance the family care and healing environment.
According to Nowlan, the design is based on a prototype constructed with strong influence from parents who have experienced a sick child’s hospitalization along with all stakeholders including family advisory committee, teen advisory committee, community and experts in child care. Full scale patient room mock-ups allow critical simulation and observation to ensure an optimal patient care scenario. Also, pockets of ‘soft’ space are strategically incorporated into the design to allow for future flexibility in size and scope of hospital care.
Testing of the site, incorporating flexible space for medical and smart technology along with family friendly diversions such as child/life services -from education to pet therapy- and amenities such as those encompassed in the new Michael Fux Family Center has yielded an exponentially high patient satisfaction score. “From the start, we have processed the design to encompass valuable input from users,” he explained.
The intent of the Family Center is to help reduce family stress and discomfort during a child’s hospitalization. It includes basic amenities such as living & kitchen space, private showers and laundry facilities in addition to a movie theatre and children’s library, art and video center, and massage and exercise facilities. Now, the patient care tower will include additional amenities such as family sleep suites in the rooms, on-demand food service, computer access, laundry and personal care facilities –all within a healing environment of body, mind and spirit.
Clinical studies show that even the tiniest tots need 30% more space in a critical care area than adults, and Miami’s cultural diversity attracts more visitors when a child is sick. With that in mind, attention to soothing atmospheres, noise attenuation, way finding and respite areas and activities to nurture weary and concerned families is a hallmark of the new building.
For example, the hospital’s hospitality guideline is to escort whenever appropriate and not just point to the path in order to meet unexpressed needs of families.
Humbert explained, “Stress is a constant companion for parents of sick children, so providing intuitive line-of-sight directions throughout each stage of the healing process is a welcome assist. Just as important is any diversion to help patients cope and feel supported during their illness and provide them with positive thoughts via moments of delight like the safari themed carts and giraffes that lead the way.”
Another prevalent attitude is a conscious attention to ‘greening’ the hospital, from energy conservation to recycling and ergonomic parameters.
Nowlan commented on the commitment to the environment, “A continuous quest for sustainability is beneficial to both patients and hospital neighbors. For example, rooftop gardens will help buffer patients and our neighbors from the clinical environment,” he noted.
Not only must all construction be above the required Miami-Dade County code since the hospital is deemed an essential facility that serves as a haven for critically ill and ventilator dependent children during a hurricane or other force of nature, but using eco-friendly materials, ergonomically designed work spaces and furniture and recycled water for climate control will help reduce energy consumption, enhance indoor air quality and minimize overall waste and harmful environmental impact.
“From demolition through renovation and construction, the plan is to incorporate sensitivity to clinical quality, ecology, cultural diversity, family comfort and neighborly hospitality at every stage, Nowlan asserted. “The mission of Miami Children’s Hospital demands nothing less."
For more information, contact Nancy Humbert at
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