Encourage healing with veterinary hospital design

Encourage healing with veterinary hospital design

Wayne Usiak shares the power of healthy design in clinics during CVC Kansas City.
Aug 24, 2014
By dvm360.com staff

At the 2014 Hospital Design Conference, architect Wayne Usiak shared the power of veterinary design in health and healing. "Safe and therapeutic environments have the ability to improve patient care, medical outcomes, staff performance and attitude," said Usiak. "Studies report lowered patient stress, heightened staff and patient safety, improved staff effectiveness, improved patient outcomes, an accelerated healing process and reduction in employee absenteeism."

Here are some advantages to therapeutic human hospitals:

> Higher perceived quality and lowered patient anxiety

> Patients underestimated waiting times

> Reduction in staff turnover

> Reduction in medication dispensing errors

> Reduction in hospital acquired infections

> Reduction in staff stress

> Reduction in patient slip/falls

> Reduction in length of stay

> Reduction in patient depression

> Reduction in pain medication


Although these have not been officially approved for pets, studies have shown that humans and animals are biologically similar, which leads us to believe that the right design could have healing benefits for pets as well as humans, says Usiak.


How do you go about incorporating this into your veterinary hospital? Here are some strategies:

> Integrate team-based design layout to encourage collaboration. e.g., Use a shared doctors' office; place ICU, treatment and workstations adjacent to each other

> Maintain high indoor air quality. e.g., use a rooftop air conditioner, use easily cleaned materials, use green cleaning products

> Provide a welcoming environment to reduce client stress and improve client and staff communications. e.g., offer comfortable furniture, plenty of natural light, home-like spaces, keep your phone room behind reception, decorate with art

> Provide appropriate illumination for tasks and comfort. e.g., as much natural light as possible (artificial light can mess up pets' day and night cycle), buy treatment/dentistry/other task lights

> Incorporate ergonomic workspace design. e.g., use a lift table, create standing stations to jot down notes

> Incorporate clear sight lines and transparency to improve patient care. e.g., include floor space in treatment for post-recovery patients visible to ICU and surgery; place lab and workstations next door to wards and isolation and include windows

> Provide appropriate "patient room" housing. e.g., comfortable beds, windows for natural light, circulation for good air quality

> Provide ample "family space." e.g., build an extra large run in ICU for privacy and to keep clients out of staff's way when they're visiting ill pets, include a long-term waiting room/lounge or kids' play area, use Dutch doors and couch seating in exam room, place umbrella tables outside where clients can sit

> Support correct protocol with design execution. e.g., tub tables (effective use of equipment, as these kinds of ttables do triple duty: can be used as a bathing sink, hand-washing sink and exam table), special laundry area for isolation, quiet kennel doors, pressure washer and grate

> Optimize daylight access. e.g., Use a natural light diffuser, which takes in daylight from a skylight and diffuses it into exam rooms and throughout hospital.

> Integrate audio and visual technologies for communication and education among patients, clients and staff. e.g., wall-mounted TVs, computers

> Display you care. e.g., post a patient and client bill of rights in waiting room, smile, offer a comfort room

> Design layouts efficiently for effective delivery. e.g., install adjustable shelves, create a logical floor plan for better work flow

> Provide natural distractions to lower stress. e.g., use lots of windows, create a Zen garden

> Consider acoustics carefully for sound isolation and reduction. e.g., install glass runs so pets can see out, keep runs outdoors if possible, use proper building