Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Furniture That Fits: New Designs and Functions Solve Patient Requirements

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Furniture That Fits: New Designs and Functions Solve Patient Requirements

Article excerpt

Hospital facilities managers need to consider many factors when selecting and utilizing furniture. Ergonomics, bariatrics, cleanability and aesthetics are among the key variables to evaluate, but so is creating a family-friendly environment for patients and visitors. The latest furniture designs also need to accommodate smartphones and related communication technologies.

An additional variable to furniture requirements has been the growth of offsite health care facilities. Designers have greater flexibility in this type of setting, according to Jocelyn M. Stroupe, CHID, EDAC, IIDA, ASID, principal, CannonDesign, Chicago. "Our firm has used furniture in these situations that may have been considered for corporate projects," she says. "We still need to consider cleaning, infection control and ergonomics, though."

In addition, Stroupe is seeing more health care space allocated to shared, collaborative work areas. "This movement is in response to reducing the square footage allocated for nonrevenue-producing space and to providing caregivers with environments that support interprofessional models of care," she explains. "While some facilities of this type are smaller, many are, in fact, large ambulatory care facilities."

The Compass System from Herman Miller Healthcare, Zeeland, Mich., offers a solution for health care facilities that face space restrictions or have small footprints. Designed to support the needs and activities of patients and their caregivers, Compass systems are available in 13- and 21-inch-deep versions, offering two solutions for tight spaces.

The system's rotating work surfaces, which can be folded out of the way when not in use, can be mounted at various wall heights to support patient-caregiver communication. The system integrates such patient-centered features as storage, personal lighting and accessories, with caregiver-oriented features such as work surfaces, sinks, glove storage and technology support.

Champion Manufacturing Inc., Elkhart, Ind., began providing patient seating in outpatient dialysis clinics 20 years ago. Its furniture is now found in a wide range of freestanding, outpatient environments including dialysis, oncology and infusion therapies.

"We have several models available--even recliner models that feature 3-inch casters or decorative stationary legs if you aren't looking to transport patients," Lauri Waidner, Champion's director of marketing, says. "Some models feature a push-back mechanism similar to a home recliner, while others feature a wall-hugger function that is suitable for environments where space is restricted."

Ergonomically correct

Moving forward, increased use of technology throughout health care facilities has challenged designers to consider ergonomics to a greater degree than when caregivers were tethered to a centralized nurses' station, says Stroupe.

"Areas are now designed with decentralized models of care, making it possible to access patient records in a variety of spaces--at the bedside, at team work areas, in exam rooms and alcoves outside patient rooms," Stroupe notes. "Each condition must be considered for its use; for example, some furniture is designed for standing-height use and others for seated-height use."

The V6 Wall Station from Humanscale Corp., Greenwood Village, Colo., is one example of this evolution in ergonomics. Its flexible monitor arms promote patient-caregiver interaction, and support caregivers in both seated and standing positions. The V6 can be configured with an accessory mount or rail for peripheral shelves to store gloves, wipes and other items.

Bariatrics is another factor that many manufacturers have addressed in their product lines. For example, KI Furniture, Green Bay, Wis., offers a variety of seating solutions that address the needs of bariatric patients. "Safety is the No. 1 consideration when designing and developing bariatric solutions," says Debbie Breunig, vice president, health care. …

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