In early December of 2019, Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Women’s Hospital began welcoming its first patients. The new 388,500 square foot state-of-the-art facility was designed using best practices for enhanced patient care and efficient workflows. The design features a two-story entrance forecourt, a soaring five-story atrium, and the facility is wrapped with abundant glazing invite natural light, keeping patients, staff, and visitors connected to the outside world.
A new type of care paradigm
When Women’s Hospital was commissioned, the hospital administration was dedicated to delivering a new kind of care paradigm for women. That excellence in patient care is embodied as a key principle in the Design Charter, and is exemplified in the design of the patient bedrooms.
“For so many years, hospital authorities in general didn’t seem to recognize in a women’s hospital, in a postpartum unit, there are two patients in that room: there’s a mother, and there’s a baby. They don’t need the same type of care, but what they need is the opportunity to become a pair bond,” explains Lynne Wilson Orr, the Parkin Architects Limited principal who led the development of the new hospital.
Moving away from multiple occupancy rooms, Women’s Hospital is the first new hospital in the province to offer single bedrooms for all patients. Each of the patient bedrooms has been specifically designed to suit the needs of women and their families, whether the patient is celebrating the birth of a child, recovering from surgery, or hoping to prevent an early birth. The hospital also includes a palliative care unit to support women with gynecologic cancers.
Putting the needs of the patients and families who will be using the rooms at the forefront, the designers carefully integrated small details that deliver comfort and safety for patients and visitors, as well as efficiency for staff.
At each room’s entrance, a hand-wash sink is available where staff wash their hands in full view of the patient, as soon as they enter the room. The floral backsplash tiles can easily be repaired as soap and paper towel dispensers are changed over time. This ensures the area will continue to look in good repair well into the future.
Each of the spacious rooms features practical elements, such as a secure storage area with a hotel-like safe inside where patients can store valuables. There is a visitors’ bench at each entrance and storage space for PPE, reducing corridor clutter and keeping materials that staff need close at hand.
In addition to the large windows featured in each room, natural-looking materials and colours are key parts of the design. Although the facility has a tight footprint, designers have incorporated garden areas where indigenous plants grow in planters painted in a delightful hot pink.
Home away from home
Hospital stays can be stressful, so the bedroom design at Women’s Hospital also incorporates elements that help make patients’ stays more comfortable. The rooms feature desks where patients or families can eat, work on a computer, or watch a movie. A separate high-back chair is provided for nursing mothers and for patients recovering from surgery who have restricted movement. Each room has a pull-out sofa where visitors can relax or on which a partner can sleep when staying overnight with the patient. An adjacent floral glass wall panel can be used for posting cards, writing notes to staff, or leaving notes for family members.
Comfort and safety
The safety of mothers and newborns is paramount in the bedroom design. The rooms provide separate medical gases for Mom and baby, and there is room for the bassinet to be located on either side of the bed, depending on the family’s comfort levels.
Each of the patient rooms includes private ensuite washrooms that accommodate the needs of new mothers. For instance, the showers are designed to allow mothers to take the baby into the washroom with them so they are not left unattended in the bedroom.
Babies do not arrive to suit adult schedules, so babies, mothers, and their partners often need to sleep during the day. The approach to both natural light and artificial lighting has been carefully thought through by the designers to accommodate parents’ needs when they are sleeping any time of the day or night.
Corridor lighting is on the outside of the patient room wall so that when they need to remain on at night for staff safety, they do not shine into the room and keep patients awake. In keeping with the overall design of the facility, each of the single rooms also features large windows that are the full width of the room and bring lots of Winnipeg sunlight deep into the space, when light is wanted. The windows also have both a sun control shade and a blackout blind so parents and babies can sleep when desired.
In addition to the features in regular patient bedrooms, the birthing rooms provide storage alcoves for birthing supplies and equipment that can all be hidden behind sliding doors. The rooms are large enough to accommodate using a birthing ball, pull bars, and other accessories that women in labour may choose to use. Meanwhile, fetal monitoring systems are designed so that the mom-to-be can walk around during her labour.
The washrooms in birthing rooms are attractively designed to resemble a spa washroom. They feature tiled floors and walls and heated towel racks. Each washroom also has a large air-jet tub that can be accessed from two sides for the mother’s comfort and safety. The tubs provide a non-medical alternative for pain relief and relaxation during labour.
Inpatients spend 90% of their stay in patient bedrooms, so it is very important that they feel welcomed and safe—and that the new hospital does not resemble the hospitals of old. While looking like comfortable and modern hotel rooms, the patient bedrooms provide all necessary equipment and supporting care practices and, with materials that stand up to hospital cleaning protocols, they meet or exceed all standards for best practice.