Article Images

NIHD members met at Ecore headquarters to discuss nurses' role in health care design and how flooring impacts patient and caregiver satisfaction.

Photo courtesy of Ecore

The meeting focused on the latest in health care facility design and the influence of nurses — or lack of it — in the design of the built environment. The importance of flooring in providing patients’ safety and caregivers’ comfort also was covered at the session.  

 “Although nurses are not necessarily the planning and design decision-makers — they are mainly architects and interior designers — their input and voices are critical to ensuring that the health care environment is well-suited for their needs,” says Yolanda Keys, R.N., president, NIHD.

According to the NIHD, nurses are one of the most underutilized resources in the planning and design of clinical environments.

“Nurses should play a major role in the design process because they are on the forefront of patient care,” Keys says. “The future of health care environments relies on their input in order to truly innovate and transform the delivery of care for the better.”

The discussion was hosted by Ecore leaders Art Dodge, president and CEO; Bo Barber, vice president of marketing and business development; and Mark Huxta, director of health care sales.

In addition to nurses’ roles in health care design, the group also covered broader challenges in designing the health care space.

Economics is one of the most influential factors affecting design decisions, says Joyce Durham, NIHD president-elect. “Other important considerations in the specification of different types of surfaces include safety, noise, durability and aesthetics.”

NIHD was formed in 2010 as a nonprofit association dedicated to educating and inspiring nurse leaders about their role in health care design and construction. The organization provides tools and research, peer education and mentoring, and a connection to other members.

Health Facilities Management published a cover story titled "Nurses’ Orders" in its May 2016 issue that reported how architects more frequently are turning to nurses for their insights on how to improve health care facility design.

At the meeting with Ecore, the nursing group agreed that flooring is an important component of health care facility design.

“Flooring selection and performance is an important topic, but one that’s not often discussed,” Durham says. “When it comes to flooring, a major issue is acoustics and noise reduction as studies show this has an impact on patient outcomes. A typical solution to combat noise is the specification of carpeting or sound-absorbing ceiling panels.”

 “Floors are an integral part of the human interface in a health care facility,” Huxta of Ecore says. “Patients, nurses, doctors and visitors all touch a floor more than any other health care surface. That’s why flooring ergonomics, safety and acoustics are such important factors in flooring selection.”

One challenge to testing floor performance, however, is that there are no objective, universally accepted criteria for measuring flooring ergonomics in the health care setting.

Ecore, however, has petitioned the American Society for Testing and Materials to establish a committee to review the need for focused testing protocol that will address the issues of patient safety related to injury from falls.

In addition to the roundtable discussions, NIHD members toured Ecore’s York, Pa., manufacturing plant, the only vertically integrated rubber recycling plant in the world. The plant produces many of Ecore’s flooring products, including the Tru premium collection, which was designed for the health care and other commercial environments.