As someone who has spent time sitting in pediatric exam rooms with my children for their wellness visits or times when they weren't feeling their best, I was particularly interested in this education session at HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11 presented by Travis Leissner, AIA, director, KMD Architects, and Kaye Schmidt, RN, MA, CPON, NEA-BC, senior director, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Children's Medical Center (CCBD), Dallas, Texas, on Monday, November 14.

With the tight square footage that makes up exam rooms, there is a constant struggle to include all the necessary equipment and make sure the patient, family, and care provider are comfortable. Using an exam room model measurement of 100 square feet, KMD Architects and CCBD listened to input from staff and family to design an exam room that not only accomodated the users but also incorporated the principles of evidence-based design.

The presenters talked about some of the ideas that were implemented to get the right amount of efficiency out of 100 square feet. Their goal was to optimize design repetition as CCBD was increasing the number of rooms. Some of the key points were having a flexible approach to casegoods (slim profiles keep the footprint small) and reconfiguration of zoning patterns (positioning the caregiver adjacent to the entryway, combining the patient and family zones).

How do you best utilize that tiny space? Especially when you're working with an even smaller footprint sometimes? Schmidt brought the idea of putting together feedback teams made up of staff and family members. A mock-up of the room translated better in this type of situation than Building Information Modeling. Brainstorming revealed some parallel thinking between staff and family but on some points the opinions were varied.

In the end what was achieved satisfied the staff, the family and patients, and CCDB. The new layout gave better lines of visibility, chairs with greater comfort and counterspace for children to use for recreation, a simplified workzone with the sink located near the door, relocation of seating and the exam table, and blue mood lighting to help soothe agitated children.

For parents and children who have to spend lengthy times in this setting, it was imperative that the design attend to their needs and allow the caregiver to be able to help the patient in an environment in which they felt comfortable. Bringing in the family and staff input seems like a simple enough idea but somehow sometimes those that actually use the space get lost in the shuffle and get pushed to the back until after the project is already finished and by that time the feeling of connectedness between the healthcare facility, care provider, and patient has already been lost or as Leissner succintly put it, "Get it Right the First Time!"