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Patient-Friendly ER Lobby Designed to Reduce Stress

Ben Cole, for HealthLeaders Media, February 18, 2010

A new emergency department lobby at Portland, OR-based Adventist Medical Center is designed to help patients relax and relieve their anxiety while they wait.

The 2,500-square-foot waiting room was modeled after a hotel lobby, and features an oversized fireplace, plasma televisions, a family-friendly seating area, free Internet access, and multiple windows for natural lighting.

Tom Russell, CEO of Adventist Medical Center, says patients who come to the emergency department are under great physical and emotional stress, and the design of the new lobby can help alleviate these feelings.

"We believe it's important to treat the whole health of our patients and that we initiate the healing process the moment they walk through our doors," Russell says. "By designing a comfortable lobby area that encourages relaxation, we are able to help prepare patients and their families for treatment and expedite the healing process."

The lobby was designed in collaboration with Adventist physicians, who provided their input on how to help emergency patients relax. Other staff and members of the community also provided suggestions to Peterson Kolberg Architects as well.

Kelli Westcott, MD, vice-chair of emergency services for Adventist Health, says the emergency department is one of the few places in a hospital people do not make plans to visit. And when they do have to make a trip there, the patients sometimes face life-threatening problems that create a stressful environment.

"Families face stressful times of uncertainty during these visits," Westcott says. "Family members and patients alike benefit from the spacious, comfortable environment of the emergency department lobby."

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