The average medical-surgical nurse walks 5 to7 miles per shift, lifts 1.8 tons cumulatively over an 8-hour shift, and spends 80% of his or her time fetching supplies. Eighty-one percent of nurses have back pain, which is a higher rate than construction workers. Considering it costs $65,000-$75,000 per head to train and replace a nurse, a business case can certainly be made to make a safer and more efficient work environment that will result in improved staff morale, recruitment, and retention.
About 65% of the hospitals in this country are more than 40 years old. Buildings can be barriers to progress when they are not designed for future flexibility and growth. By the year 2020, when it is estimated that more than16% of the population will be older than 65, the need for healthcare will increase exponentially. Healthcare in the future will move from the inpatient environment to more than 90% being delivered in ambulatory care or specialized short stay facilities. Organizations need to start anticipating the needs and changes this will bring now.
Most of the shortcomings in design and process planning occur because of a lack of vision and communication. Projects that are rushed forward without a detailed review of the functional program and available financial resources are the ones that are at risk of failure. By collectively focusing on the lifecycle perspective, strategic planning, consumer satisfaction, and life and safety elements of the project, success can be achieved by all.
Sandie Colatrella, RN, BSN, CLNC, is VP Healthcare Planning & Research at Avanti Architecture.