Page D1.1 . 03 March 2004                     
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    Tomorrow's Patient Room

    by Michelle Moore

    In the health-care field, change comes quickly as medical technology advances and care-giving methods evolve. This change is reflected in contemporary hospital architecture, perhaps most visibly in patient rooms, where flexible design is critical.

    What will the adaptable patient room of the future be like? That's the question Ellerbe Becket medical planners, architects, interior designers, and engineers set out to answer.

    During charettes (high-intensity work sessions), Ellerbe Becket professionals worked through the issues they expect to be most important over the next few decades, to arrive at an optimum design. They considered health-care trends that will influence the room's features, including characteristics of future patients, resource limitations, rising costs, and technology.

    Aging Boomers, Limited Nurses

    Hospital patients during the next 30 to 40 years largely will come from the post-World War II "baby-boom" generation. "As these individuals grow older they'll have a greater need for health care and frequently will have multiple problems," says John Waugh, AIA, Ellerbe Becket principal architect. "They may be having elective procedures and a general expectation of a higher level of care, including spa-like amenities. Obesity also will be a factor among patients."

    Meanwhile, the nursing shortage will continue, and today's nurses will age, making professional caregivers scarce and tasks more strenuous. "This creates concern for staff and patient safety," explains Craig Hall, RA, senior medical architect at Ellerbe Becket. "For example, overweight patients are harder to move, potentially harming caregivers and the patient."   >>>

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    This "patient room of the future" was the result of an in-house charette at the architecture firm Ellerbe Becket.
    Image: Ellerbe Becket

    ArchWeek Image

    A video screen can be used for positive visual and auditory elements: nature scenes, videoconferencing, or medical consultations.
    Image: Ellerbe Becket


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