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Patient and Family Advice Leads to Innovative Design and Amenities for New Neurosciences ICU

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Feb. 17, 2016 – When Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center was planning a new neurosciences intensive care unit (Neuro ICU) for neurology and neurosurgery patients, they went directly to the source for advice: the families and patients who had spent time in the current facility. Today, the result of that collaboration was unveiled. Neuro ICU

At 32,600 square feet, the $16.5 million Neuro ICU takes up half of the fifth floor at the Ardmore Tower. Its perimeter is one-quarter of a mile. The 24-bed facility has a calming, light and airy feel with art on the walls, plenty of natural light and a double-matted floor that is soft and easy on the feet as it quiets foot traffic, all of which is conducive to a healing environment.

A volunteer meets families when they arrive and provides a tour of the family-friendly features that include:

  • a large family waiting room with comfortable chairs and couches, flat screen televisions and a wall-mounted game system for children
  • a family lounge that has a kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator, chairs and tables, a washer and dryer so families can clean their clothes, two bathrooms with a shower and lockers to stow personal items; vending machines provide laundry products, toiletries and snacks
  • two conference rooms, for family updates and conversations between physicians and families, with audio-visual capabilities for viewing education videos or images that help explain a condition, injury or treatment and one that permits live teleconferencing and sharing of information between physicians and family members who live far away
  • a quiet room for families undergoing an extremely stressful situation
  • all patient rooms are private and larger, which allows family members to get a good night’s sleep close to their loved ones. Each room is equipped with convertible furniture that can be used as a bed, couch or a work station with plug-ins for electronic devices.

These family-centered amenities support a new approach to patient care in the Neuro ICU. It was once thought that following a neurological illness or injury, it was best to have all patients rest and family access restricted. Now there is mounting evidence that in most cases having family around, and participating in patient care, improves a patient’s recovery. Further, family members are welcomed at the bedside where they can learn firsthand from nurses about how to care for their loved ones once they return home.

The new Neuro ICU replaces two 11-bed ICUs currently housed in the North Tower. The unit will serve a variety of patients including those who experience stroke, head trauma and brain injury or those who need acute post-surgical care.

When it comes to patient care and safety, Wake Forest Baptist project managers, neurologists, neurosurgeons, critical care physicians and nursing staff went to their colleagues and peers to find the best practices in health care facilities across the country. Feedback from families and providers about other recently constructed health care facilities was incorporated.

These are some of the elements featured in the unit:

  • lifts are located at each bed to allow patients to be easily moved from the bed; the lifts are part of a new approach to patient care in a Neuro ICU designed to encourage patients to be mobile as soon as possible in their recovery. Wake Forest Baptist is one of the first in the nation with this system in place
  • ceiling-attached booms house electrical outlets and oxygen access and allow free movement around the patient and clears the floor of cable and device clutter, creating a safe environment
  • copper-infused solid countertops and surfaces reduce infection
  • decentralized nursing stations throughout the ICU keep providers close to their patients

There is also another unique feature for clinical staff who work in this high-stress environment: a staff respite room with showers, comfortable furniture and acoustics that block out noise from overhead messages, chatter, phones and other devices.

The unit reflects Wake Forest Baptist’s commitment to provide leading-edge patient and family centered care as well as its continued investment in the neurosciences. Wake Forest Baptist’s neurosciences program supports the full range of comprehensive neurological and neurosurgical subspecialty services to those in our community and the region.

The architect/designer for the Neuro ICU is HKS, Richmond, Va.; the general contractor is Frank L. Blum, Winston-Salem.

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