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VA Health Care System Intensive Care Unit

Challenge

The Iowa City VA Health Care System’s intensive care unit, which was built in the mid-1980s, still had original finishes and needed paint, flooring, and additional finish upgrades. After weighing the cost options, however, the VA Health Care System decided to not only replace interior finishes, but also wanted to renovate the entire unit to allow for greater visibility from the central monitoring area and eliminate the cameras used to monitor patients.
 

Solution

By creating a new design that makes better use of available square footage, Shive-Hattery eliminated visual obstructions in the middle of the intensive care unit, giving staff clear lines of sight to patient rooms from the central monitoring area. A standing-height workstation positioned there allows doctors, nurses, and specialists to collaborate and discuss specific patients. A few small rooms and full-wall partitions were relocated from the middle to the perimeter of the unit. The unit’s north side is now designed to serve as a “behind-the-scenes” functional area, with space for medicine and nutrition rooms.
 
Satellite nurses’ stations serve two patient rooms each, keeping nurses closer to patients so they always know what’s happening. The rooms are designed with windows and operable blinds so privacy can be achieved when needed, but patients can also be easily monitored when necessary. Camera monitoring is no longer needed, allowing for quicker reactions to patients. Medical supplies can now be stocked from outside the room so patients aren’t interrupted or disturbed. The storage areas are also accessible from inside the rooms so nurses have quick access to necessary supplies. 
 
Two new central monitoring areas and ward clerk stations were created in a semi-circular design to make the stations more prominent and welcoming. Shive-Hattery then mimicked this design on the ceiling and the floors to help visitors confirm that they’re in the right place.
 
Conference rooms and breakrooms were also upgraded, providing calm, quiet places for nurses to relax.
 

Impact

By transforming the way the Iowa City VA Health Care System’s intensive care unit uses its square footage, camera monitoring has been eliminated. Patient rooms and staff work areas now support flexibility and better, faster, more personal care.
 
The finish upgrades add a modern touch to the unit, making it an aesthetically pleasing space for patients, visitors, and staff to enjoy.
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