Maybe we just build them better? (But who pays?)

OK, campers, I know I’m tossing crumbs here, but I drove 6 hours today and am now, umm, well, not in any major metropolitan area, that’s for sure. But I’m visiting a very interesting hospital program tomorrow. And my chain motel is smack-dab between a Denny’s and a Waffle House. Just think of the breakfast options. (And imagine my arteries clogging. OK, don’t.)

Skittering back to the reason why we’re here: Via the LA Times, an intriguing article about the possibilities of reducing hospital-acquired infections by designing hospitals better: single rooms, improved airflow, more sinks, etc.

“Private rooms are the most important design element that reduces the spread of infection between patients,” says Richard Van Enk, director of infection control and epidemiology for Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Mich. Bronson is a pioneer of evidence-based design and was among the first hospitals in the United States to build a facility with all private patient rooms.
The hospital’s new design also incorporates two sinks in each patient room, one of which is dedicated for the exclusive use of the healthcare worker. Many easily cleaned surface materials such as water-based low VOC (volatile organic chemical) paint, plastic counter coverings and linoleum floorings with antimicrobial properties were also used throughout the hospital. (Byline: Lisa Zamosky)

It sounds plausible to me. Superbug Spouse is an expert in human-factors design, and we both do photography and web design (he’s better), so issues like this – which way do your eyes go? what button do you naturally want to push? – get tossed about a lot in our house. And just yesterday I listened to an infection-control nurse describe the difficulty of getting healthcare workers to use sinks in older rooms in which the sinks are within the bathrooms; the HCWs perceived the bathrooms as the patients’ private space, not as accessible to all. So there may be something to this.

But retrofitting is expensive. And the bill will be paid by… ??


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