The Decentralized Station: More Than Just Patient Visibility

Nov 01, 2017

Since the landmark study in 2004 by Hendrich et al., investigating the impacts of patient visibility on reductions in morbidity of patients, healthcare designers, clinicians, and regulatory agencies have embraced the importance of patient visibility, particularly in the critical care environment.
The decentralized station was a physical change in patient units to move care to the bedside, while creating a space for staff and increasing the visibility of the most critically ill patients. This increase in patient visibility for critical care units is now part of the FGI Guidelines and code mandated in many states. What began as a trend for the patients in the critical care environment is more recently expanding to medical / surgical patient care spaces. Little research has investigated the impact of the decentralized station on staff workflow and the design of the medical/surgical environment, and specifically the effects beyond patient visibility. To explore the impact of the decentralized station on the medical/surgical environment, the team conducted a post occupancy evaluation (POE) of the Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital.
The team found dramatic impact on staff travel distances, time spent providing patient care, and patients’ overall perceptions of quality of care all of which positively aligned with the presence of decentralized care stations in the medical/surgical environment. This case study explores the impact of the decentralized station across three different patient populations, and highlights additional benefits realized from the design evolution of the decentralized station beyond patient visibility.

Christina Grimes, AIA (Ballinger)
Louis A. Meilink, Jr. AIA (Ballinger)
The Academy Journal of the AIA Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH)
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

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