Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Decentralized Nursing Units May Come with Unintended Consequences

Magazine article Health Facilities Management

Decentralized Nursing Units May Come with Unintended Consequences

Article excerpt

Decentralized nursing units have gained in popularity over the past few years in tandem with the transition to single-occupancy patient rooms, the idea being that by placing nurses closer to the patient's bedside, hospitals can eliminate visibility issues and keep care quality high.

But does it actually work? That's the question faculty and students at the Institute for Health + Wellness Design at the University of Kansas (KU) School of Architecture, Design & Planning are attempting to answer through a new study. In 2014, the team was contracted by architecture firm Lawrence Group to complete a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) of the renovated orthopedic unit at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital-Jefferson City (Mo.). The results would give the health system valuable insight before embarking on a renovation of its sister hospital SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital-Lake Saint Louis (Mo.).

The POE of St. Mary's showed that patient satisfaction scores increased in all categories except one.

"In looking at the patient surveys that were completed after the occupancy of the new unit, we picked up on an unusual finding relative to the drop in the perception of timeliness of the nursing staff, and it sparked an interest on our part in looking at ... how the unit actually was running and were the remote stations being used as anticipated," says Kent Spreckelmeyer, FAIA, professor in the architecture school.

Hui Cai, assistant professor of the health and wellness program at the school of architecture, hypothesizes that although decentralized units place nurses closer to patients, they may unintentionally isolate them from other staff, making it harder for nurses to get questions answered and delaying care as a result. …

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