Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa wanted more than a new emergency center for the Mason City community. Hospital leaders and staff wanted to create a positive healing environment, efficient seamless patient flow and an experience with more privacy for their growing patient population.
That is why Mercy formed a design team to use Lean methodologies in planning and designing its new emergency department (ED). The Lean concept is both a philosophy and management system that is built on the Toyota Production System and creates value by eliminating inefficiencies and waste. Flad Architects was selected as the architect and designer for the new ED, supported by Mason City-based Bergland and Cram Architects. Henkel Construction was the construction manager for the project.
“Using a lean exercise known as 3P (people, preparation, process), life-size mock-ups of key spaces were designed and constructed of cardboard and other simple materials to simulate patient, physician, and staff experiences and real-life scenarios,” said Mark Trotter, project manager at Flad Architects. “The mock-ups helped ensure that all design options were considered for the new ED to run efficiently.”
The end result is a 25,493-square-foot emergency department built with family-centered care and patient privacy in mind. The department features a “racetrack” design with a central nurses’ station encircled by 19 private examination rooms and two trauma treatment rooms. The open center-core design, which is flooded with natural light from above, allows for visibility into patient rooms while still maintaining an appropriate amount of privacy. The space also houses family consultation rooms and CT, X-Ray and ultrasound rooms.
Exam rooms were designed using a universal concept for adaptability and safety. Clinical and public spaces were planned for maximum flexibility to allow staff to easily adapt to positive operational and cultural changes that are anticipated as a result of the Lean process.
The interior environment for the new ED focuses on providing a safe, supportive and warm atmosphere through access to natural daylight, indirect lighting, soft curvilinear forms in the ceiling and floor patterns and natural images portrayed in glass. The use of natural elements is designed to lower stress and anxiety for both patients and staff.
At the recent opening, Dr. Matt Schiller, the emergency center’s medical director, expressed appreciation to “everyone associated with this project and everybody who helped design and build it. The community has waited an awfully long time for this.” Schiller said. “We still provide the same level of excellent care, but the environment in which we give that care has improved immensely.”