Emory Report
November 26, 2007
Volume 60, Number 12

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November 26, 2007
New neuroscience ICU earns award for family-friendly design

By lanCe skelly

The Neurosciences Critical Care Unit at Emory University Hospital has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 ICU Design Citation Award.

Early in 2007, Emory opened its 20-bed, neurosciences ICU that allows for centralization of the most critical medical services for patients suffering from severe neurological trauma. Emory's new unit is one of the largest and busiest in the U.S., and one of only a few of this type of unit in the Southeast. It provides an unparalleled level of comfort and convenience, and most importantly, the integration of family members who wish to remain near their loved ones.

"From conception and design to implementation, our mission was and still is very much about catering to the emotional, spiritual and physical requirements of our patients' loved ones — treating them as part of the team and not as visitors," said Owen Samuels, director of neuroscience critical care.

All 20 patient suites were designed and built around evidence-based design principles, using research to determine how attributes of a health care environment can affect not only the patient's outcome, but also clinical staff effectiveness and satisfaction for the patients' families. They were created with sufficient space to perform complex procedures at the bedside, minimizing the need to transport fragile patients across the hospital.

The patient suites are large enough to include a separate family living area — keeping family members steps from their loved one, while maintaining 24-hour access to the patient and care team.

Thoughtfully designed nurse station alcoves, near patient rooms, provide a direct line of sight for all patients and minimize the transfer of charting noise, while increasing patient and staff comfort and quick access to information and telecommunications. The unit also combines the ultimate in medical technology and incorporates home-like features for patient family members such as showers, a kitchen and laundry facilities.

The award is co-sponsored by the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the American Institute of Architects Academy on Architecture for Health. Additionally, Emory also was named an "honorable mention" for SCCM’s Patient-Centered Care Award.

"Emory set out to ensure that each patient and their family members have the best outcome possible, and we designed an intensive care unit that capitalizes on the remarkable medical technology available and the expertise of our medical team," said John Fox, president and CEO of Emory Healthcare. "With this state-of-the-art facility, Emory sets the standard — locally and nationally — for neuro critical care, and I am very pleased that our combined efforts, which played an integral part in the design and creation of the unit, have been recognized by this prestigious honor."