Photo credit: © Perkins+Will, 2011
In this third installment of a three-part series on incorporating family into the patient room, authors Hannah Jefferies and Jennifer Merchant of Perkins+Will discuss how resource centers, consult rooms, and nurse stations, as well as the patient rooms, were impacted by the need to accomodate family at Rush University Medical Center.

Resource centers
Families are able to access medical information and research at resource computers provided within the family lounge located on each floor. The family lounges are designed to be comfortable waiting spaces featuring community art walls and exterior views —providing families with a place of respite as they wait for their loved ones. The main Resource Center is located on the main public thoroughfare and is available to all patients and family members. (See Figure 2.) Figure 2. Diagrams of a) a typical acute care floor plan, with its iconic butterfly shape, b) a typical acute care patient unit, and c) a typical acute care patient room, divided into the staff zone, patient zone, and family zone.

Consult rooms
Two larger consult rooms are provided per unit, each of which can be used for private conversations between healthcare providers and family members. “Recently, the patient-centered-care movement has encouraged greater patient involvement and a more egalitarian encounter with the clinician, promoting two-way communication and greater access to information" (Almquist et al, 2009).
Figure 4. Interior rendering of a family respite bench located at a corridor tip between a staff conference room (shown) and a consult room. The consult rooms (located across from staff conference rooms) and adjacent corridor bench seating can also be utilized as an area of respite for family members when needed. (See Figure 2.) Nurse stations
Decentralized, open nurse stations are provided to allow families to easily access staff and can help accommodate open dialogue between the caregiver and the family, as members of the patient care team. In addition, staff has better views of patient rooms and will spend less time walking to reach their patients. (See Figure 2.)
Figure 5. Interior rendering of a decentralized nurse station, with open meeting spaces for family members to feel comfortable approaching staff.
The patient room
The new hospital building’s patient rooms are designed with three separate zones for the staff, patient, and family (See Figure 2.). The family zone features loose furniture as well as built-in casework at the footwall, providing guests with a designated seating area within the patient room. Figure 6. Interior rendering of a typical Acute Care patient room showing the amenities of the family zone and the footwall design. “Accommodating family members inside patient rooms is a relatively new development, which, in many hospitals, has replaced the outdated policy of restricted visiting hours for family members” (Pati et al., 2009). The furniture includes a patient recliner with ottoman and a compact sleeper loveseat sofa, which pulls out to the sides to create a flat sleeping surface for one person to stay with the patient overnight. The footwall casework houses a storage cubby and shelves for displaying flowers and cards, and—in acute care rooms only—a bench with two drawers mounted underneath to allow additional seating for guests. The family also has ample room to store personal belongings either within the compartment hidden in the base of the sofa or at the footwall drawers.
Amenities within the family zone include a 42” flat screen TV, complete with multiple TV channels and access to a variety of movies, with future possibilities of Internet access, medical topic information, and daily food selections available in each room. In addition, there are several extra electrical outlets in the room to allow for families to charge cell phones, laptops, and other personal devices. Figure 7. Interior rendering of a typical Acute Care patient room headwall. Each of the acute and critical care patient rooms have large windows, providing patients and families alike with access to views of the Chicago skyline and ample daylight. The double window shades have two different opacity options (blackout and sheer), allowing visitors and patients to have individual control over their environment.

In addition to natural light in the patient room, there are multiple levels of electrical lighting. Wall sconces are located at the footwall above the storage cubby and at the headwall behind the patient recliner to create soft ambient lighting; nightlights are located in both the toilet room and the patient room; and a multiple-function overbed fixture for the patient features several softer lighting settings for when an exam is not taking place. Many of the lights in the room are also on dedicated switches, allowing patients and families to choose the lighting levels that will make them comfortable during their stay.
As the Rush University Medical Center new hospital building opens next year and we continue to develop patient rooms in the future, families will continue to play a critical role in the design of the patient unit. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that the presence of family provides the social support necessary to create a less stressful environment and improve patient safety” (Pati et al., 2009). To read the first installment of this series, please go here. For the second, please go here.
Hannah Jefferies, MFA, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC, is a registered interior designer at Perkins+Will in Chicago. She can be reached at . Jennifer Merchant, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, EDAC, is an associate at Perkins+Will in Chicago. She can be reached at . Sources:
Almquist, Julka R., Caroline Kelly, Joyce Bromberg, Sandra C. Bryant, Teresa J. H. Christianson, and Victor M. Montori (2009). Consultation Room Design and the Clinical Encounter: The Space and Interaction Randomized Trial. Health Environments Research and Design Journal. Posted online 11/1/2009.

Bunker-Hellmich, Lou, (2010). Patient Focus: Developments in Inpatient Unit Design. Health Facilities Management, March 2010, 26-29.
Pati, Debajyoti, Thomas E. Harvey, Jr., Evelyn Reyers, Jennie Evans, Laurie Waggener, Marjorie Serrano, Rachel Saucier and Tina Nagle (2009). A Multidimensional Framework for Assessing Patient Room Configurations. Health Environments Research and Design Journal. Posted online 2/1/2009.