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Staff Expertise Built into Cambridge Tower A's Design

September 20, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When it comes to designing an optimal patient experience, who better to ask than the clinical staff providing the care?

From Cambridge Tower A's inception, nurses, therapists and physicians have had a voice at the table providing input into the new tower's plans.

"I can't imagine building something as important as a new hospital without engaging and integrating staff clinical expertise into the design process," said Carol Cleek, RN, Clinical Sponsor of Cambridge Tower A Team Leads. "They understand the patient and family needs, the workflows and the day-to-day hospital operations better than anyone."

Take a virtual tour of Cambridge Tower A.

Clinical design teams representing multiple disciplines started meeting in early 2016 applying LEAN 3P (production, preparation, process) and 3Pi (implementation) methods to develop processes and space layouts with maximum efficiency and minimal waste.

Using a cardboard scaled model of the tower and colored strings to guide them, staff tested and developed work flows that mapped out every step of a patient's care experience from the time they entered the building through discharge. Insights gained from this exercise helped inform many of the final design decisions now in the tower.

"The overarching goal was to design work flows and space that would achieve the best patient outcomes in a way that was most efficient for the staff," said Adam Meier, RN, Multidisciplinary Team, Cambridge Tower A Team Leads.

Successful 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain) LEAN processes already implemented today on Neurosciences/ENT ICU, Neurosciences/ENT Progressive Care and Surgical Oncology were replicated in their new spaces in Cambridge Tower A, achieving greater organization and efficiency while reducing costs and boosting productivity.

Working within the parameters of the blueprint, clinical teams collaborated with architects to provide input on full-size mocked-up spaces and tweaked designs before building began.

In those exercises, staff could offer ideas about furniture and equipment placement, patient care area needs, distances between supplies and patients, placement of outlets, staff offices and touchdown spaces, headwall design and many other issues.

Continual input was solicited along the way. Design teams even donned Google glasses to walk through construction zones, sharing their virtual tour with coworkers back in their units for additional insights.

Efficient, functional workspace

Staff workspaces are highly functional, according to Stacy Smith, RN, Multidisciplinary Team, Cambridge Tower A Team Leads.

"The new team rooms will foster multidisciplinary collaboration," she said. Space feature touchdown work stations, a dry erase wall, projector for film review or audiovisuals, and a meeting table. Located behind nursing stations, team rooms are in close proximity to patient care areas but allow for privacy and HIPAA compliance.

Using full-scale mockups, ICU rooms and equipment were tested. Instead of traditional ICU power columns, flexible overhead booms that hold monitors and feed power and gasses into the equipment were installed.

Family-friendly features

Keeping families in mind, each patient room is divided into zones for the family, patient and nurse. Each room features a sleeper sofa, guest chairs, extra folding seating housed in the room closet and a patient recliner. The family zone features a reading light and charging station, as well as a niche for displaying pictures and flowers.

Waiting areas offer open spaces and smaller seating areas, charging stations for devices, vending, drink stations and (on the fifth floor ICU) shower and locker facilities for families.

Infrastructure was installed for ceiling lift equipment, and many rooms will be outfitted with lift devices.

Designers also had the future in mind when planning for a November 2017 opening. Clinical teams visited other hospitals to learn about "smart" care – hospitals with infrastructure in place to adapt to anticipated changes in technology – and lay the groundwork and hard wiring for those technological advances.


Reducing steps and eliminating non-value-added time is one result of a new "greet-to-bay" process that will be used in Cambridge Tower A. Rather than starting at a traditional admissions desk, surgical patients will be greeted and escorted directly to a pre-operative space where the admissions process takes place before pre-surgery assessments and preparations begin.

"The entire process has been a collaborative effort in every phase, from conception through construction," said Cleek.

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