Shot with Victoria Nichols 5

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In this series, Healthcare design Ask leading healthcare design professionals, companies, and owners to tell us what caught their attention and share some thoughts on the topic.

Victoria Nichols, partner ZGF architect‘The Seattle office is responsible for leading the company’s national healthcare operations. Here, she shared her thoughts on remote work, the impact on frontline employees, and the use of agility to adapt to future flexibility.

1. Attract users in new ways

In the past 18 months, work has never stopped; in fact, we are busier than ever. The same is true for our customers. Remote work allows us to interact with them in new ways. For example, before COVID-19, a hallmark of the design approach was to invite staff, patients, and family groups to design meetings using cardboard models to get their real-time feedback on the new space. When the pandemic hit, our company quickly turned to virtual tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx to maintain this engagement and help them meet the challenges they face. We are also testing new ways to get the same answers, whether it’s presenting draft solutions and using virtual walkthrough concepts to make users react, or relying more on comprehensive feedback from patients and family counseling groups. But how effective are these tools? If you don’t hear as many individual voices and stand together in the model space, what might be lost? The jury is still out.

  1. Shaping the whole person experience

Healthcare does not start at the front door of a hospital or clinic, nor does it end when the patient leaves. What happens before and after care is as influential as the time the patient spends receiving care. Maybe a family must take three buses to reach the medical park. Maybe they are reluctant to seek care in the first place. The design team cannot solve some of these challenges, but if we know the challenges we face—through direct feedback from patients, employees, and family—we can use design to help break down barriers and make our spaces feel safer and more welcoming. Easier to navigate. Even providing transitional space in the lobby can help patients take a breath and mentally shift gears before making an appointment.

 

  1. Distribute care outside school

With the unprecedented premium of clinical space, especially during the pandemic, many hospitals have taken measures to transform waiting areas, meeting rooms, and support spaces to make room for high-risk patients. Some facilities have actually run out of oxygen, which puts pressure on the entire medical gas infrastructure. Acuity adaptability has once again become a hot topic of discussion-design each ward to accommodate the highest level of acuity, and narrow the use of these rooms as needed. But this level of care also comes with the largest and most expensive footprint. The biggest challenge for designers is to find a pleasant medium between being prepared for the worst (such as a long-term surge) without overbuilding and at the same time still being a good steward of the client’s resources.

 

  1. Prioritize employee experience

Over the years, our customers have listed employee retention and recruitment as their most severe challenge. Eighteen months after the pandemic, the pressure to care for patients continued to cause losses. However, although most hospitals require nursing rooms and health rooms for employees, we often hear stories about how employee lounges can be used for other purposes, such as meetings, reports, conference rooms or training. It became the “everything room”. By rebalancing the spatial distribution of staff rest, clinical support and direct patient care, helping staff recharge and take care of themselves has never been more important. We must take time to understand the needs of employees and provide choices in the built environment, rather than assuming that the status quo is acceptable.

  1. Flexibility of space and infrastructure

As clinical space has always been at a premium, especially during the pandemic, what kind of space has many hospitals turned to for help? Waiting areas, meeting rooms and support spaces make room for highly sensitive patients. Some facilities have actually run out of oxygen, which puts pressure on the entire medical gas infrastructure. Acuity adaptability has once again become a hot topic of discussion-design each ward to accommodate the highest level of acuity, and narrow the use of these rooms as needed. But this level of care also comes with the largest and most expensive footprint. The biggest challenge for designers is to find a pleasant medium between being prepared for the worst (such as a long-term surge) without overbuilding and at the same time still being a good steward of the client’s resources.

Want to share your top 5?Contact Editor-in-Chief Tracy Walker at tracey.walker@emeraldx.com Used to submit instructions.



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