How do you envision the new Pavilion at HUP changing patient care, for both patients and providers?

Natalie Neal, medical student, Perelman School of Medicine

Patient care and the experiences of patients, families, and staff are top of mind as we work toward opening the Pavilion in 2021. Everyone from doctors and nurses to environmental services, pharmacy and nutrition staff have participated in simulations and been able to provide feedback on our early designs. It’s thanks to that wide variety of input in planning that we know we’ll make a positive impact.

Design of every element in the Pavilion puts the patient experience first.

At home we can easily control our environment, but that’s not usually the case in a hospital room, which can lead to patients and families feeling disempowered and frustrated — searching for light switches, say, or stowing family belongings in tight quarters that don’t leave room for them — during an already difficult time. In the Pavilion, patients and families will have more control than ever to adjust their space to make themselves more comfortable. For example, using a bedside tablet, they’ll be able to adjust room temperature a few degrees up or down. Privacy is easy to control. With the flip of a switch, the electronic vision glass can change from clear to opaque in both the room door and the window which allows nurses to check on a patient without going in.

Lighting in patient rooms will also be more soothing. Each room will have 12 zones of lighting so a clinician – say, a nurse working on a computer or adjusting IV pumps – can turn on a light in one zone and leave the area around the patient’s bed dark. The family space can have a light on without disturbing the patient. Even the lights in the hallway are being placed thoughtfully so they won’t shine directly into a patient’s eyes.

Special ceiling tiles and floors will help to diminish noise. Also helping with noise levels, a lot of typical staff foot traffic, including activities with linen and trash carts, will be kept away from the main corridors on patient floors (the “onstage” areas) thanks to the design of “offstage” spaces for staff functions.

To limit disruption for patients and nurses, many patient care activities will be done at the bedside.

Depending on the patient needs on a given unit, there will be spaces to park portable equipment for X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds, as well as echocardiograms. This improves convenience for staff, reduces transitions in care between different areas of the hospital, and helps patients, who are not being brought into new areas and feeling detached from their “home base” so often. Radiology staff also won’t need to roll all heavy equipment to patient floors, and there’s less wear and tear on the equipment.

Those who’ve had the chance to take a hard hat tour of the Pavilion construction site have no doubt seen that the floors are huge. But our goal is to make the space accessible and easy for staff. To help cut back on steps and time spent gathering medical supplies for patients, each patient room will include a patient server (a special storage closet) which will hold 24 hours of a patient’s medications in a locked drawer, plus other essential patient-care supplies such as dressings. Cutting out the need for supply runs also gives staff more time to spend with patients. And the patient server will be stocked from the hallway, again limiting disruption to patients when refilling linens and other supplies.

To make it easy for providers to document all patient care on Epic, our electronic health record system, patient care floors in the Pavilion will have multiple work stations inside and outside of patient rooms, and in “offstage” areas — for documentation after seeing a patient or even reviewing a patient’s chart before entering a patient’s room. In addition, large “teaming spaces” or touch-down areas for all members of a patient care team will be available on patient floors as well as in periop, with workstations, a space for quiet conversations, to eat a meal, and just to gather together.

Last, but not least, plans are underway for wellness spaces on each floor. These will be customized to the needs and preferences of the staff in each area and could have massage chairs, sleep pods, or meditation spaces. The idea is to offer space for staff to regroup, in whatever way feels most helpful to them. We know that when providers feel cared about and supported, they’re better able to care for others.

Have questions of your own for Kevin B. Mahoney, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System? Email and you may see your question appear in a future issue of System News!

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