The latest in healthcare facility design and the influence of nurses in the design of the built environment were the focus of a recent gathering of members of the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design (NIHD) at the Lancaster, Pa., headquarters of Ecore, a leading producer of flooring performance surfaces.
In a freewheeling discussion hosted by Art Dodge, Ecore president and CEO; Bo Barber, Ecore vice president of marketing and business development; and Mark Huxta, Ecore director of healthcare sales, the board members discussed several major trends. One such topic: the role of nurses in healthcare design.
“Although nurses are not necessarily the planning and design decision makers– it’s mainly architects and interior designers – their input and voices are critical to ensure the healthcare environment is well suited for their needs,” said Yolanda Keys, NIHD president.
According to the NIHD, nurses are one of the most underutilized resources in the planning and design of clinical environments.
“Nurses should play a major role in the design process because they are on the forefront of patient care,” said Keys. “The future of healthcare environments relies on their input in order to truly innovate and transform the delivery of care for the better.”
In addition to nurses’ role in healthcare design, the group also covered challenges in designing the healthcare space.
“Economics is one of the most influential factors in the long run that influences design decisions,” said Joyce Durham, NIHD president elect. “Other important considerations in the specification of different types of surfaces includes safety, noise, durability and aesthetics.”
The group also agreed that flooring is an important component of healthcare facility design.
“Flooring selection and performance is an important topic, but one that’s not often discussed,” said Durham. “When it comes to flooring, a major issue is acoustics and noise reduction as studies show this has an impact on patient outcomes. A typical solution to combat noise is the specification of carpeting or sound-absorbing ceiling panels.”
According to Durham, carpeting, however, isn’t necessarily an ideal solution as there are more infection control issues than nonporous, hard-surface flooring.
“Floors are integral part of the human interface in a healthcare facility,” said Ecore’s Mark Huxta. “Patients, nurses, doctors and visitors all touch a floor more than any other healthcare surface. That’s why flooring ergonomics, safety and acoustics are such important factors in flooring selection.”
One challenge to testing floor performance, however, is that there is no objective, universally accepted testing criteria for measuring flooring ergonomics in the healthcare setting.
“It’s important to have these testing parameters, so architects and specifiers can truly understand how flooring can reduce the impact on the knees, ligaments and feet,” said Huxta. “The latest philosophy in healthcare design utilizes evidence-based design strategies like these that link a hospital’s physical environment to healthcare outcomes.”
In addition to the roundtable discussions, NIHD members toured Ecore’s York, Pa., manufacturing plant, the only vertically integrated rubber recycling plant in the world. The plant produces many of Ecore’s flooring products including the Tru Collection that was specifically designed for the healthcare environment.
To learn more about Ecore and how surfaces can reduce the severity of fall injuries visit: http://www.ecorecommercialflooring.com/Products/Tru.
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