By Barry Bottino
CHICAGO — Peggy Markosek, RN, unit director of Rush University Medical Center’s 3 Kellogg neuroscience unit, easily can recall her first experiences at the Chicago facility.
“When I first started here in 1977, our unit didn’t even have a floor intercom,” Markosek said. “So we would be yelling down the floor for help and things.”
How times have changed.
On Jan. 9, Rush unveiled its new 14-story hospital building just off the Eisenhower Expressway at Congress Parkway on the former site of several tennis courts.
Among the numerous innovative features are new communications systems for RNs and other staff.
“Now we have wireless cell phones,” Markosek said. “Staff are just loving these phones, and loving the ability to immediately answer the call. I think nurses are going to work smarter.”Views from patient rooms in the new hospital are quite picturesque. “The patients are not going to want to go home,” said Peggy Markosek, RN.
The 304-bed hospital’s butterfly-shaped design on the top six floors stands out to travelers on the expressway, while its new features will stand out for nurses, healthcare providers and patients.
“First of all, it’s iconic in its stature,” said Cynthia Barginere, RN, DNP(c), FACHE, vice president and CNO. “What Rush has been able to do is create the design and to create the culture that is going to support it. I’m very impressed with that.”
The 830,000-square-foot building is key to Rush’s Transformation campaign, which began in 2004 as an effort to revamp the campus. “It’s the cornerstone of the Transformation,” Barginere said.
How nurses work will be greatly enhanced by the new facility, according to Marsha Mulbarger, RN, director of adult critical care.
“It’s not just transforming care because we’re in a different building,” she said. “Because we’re going into a new building, it gave all of us an opportunity to really standardize our workflows, not only within departments, but across departments. How one of my ICUs makes assignments is getting standardized throughout all the ICUs.
“That becomes more efficient. It reduces variability,” Mulbarger said. “Any time you reduce variability, you are increasing the safety factor in the environment.”
The building’s design, which began with mock rooms in the existing facility, allows nurses to be closer in proximity to patient assignments and boasts identical rooms to cut down on time finding supplies, Mulbarger said.
“That was the beauty of that design,” Mulbarger said. “The butterfly design allows nursing to cluster in what we envisioned as neighborhoods so the nurse is not walking a great distance for supplies or medication, (and) his or her patients can be clustered together.”
Healthcare professionals also will wear a small, triangle-shaped locator button attached to their uniforms that will allow colleagues to track their whereabouts in rooms on a unit.
“We have locators programmed to RNs or PCTs,” Markosek said. “If I’m looking for an RN, I’ll know by that green light (outside the room) that an RN is in that room.”
For patients, the hospital bed will be equipped with call lights for toileting support, water and pain. If a patient needs water, the call will be routed to a PCT. Other needs will be answered by an RN, Barginere said. “That will improve the nurses’ ability to respond quickly, but it will also hopefully improve our patients’ perception of the care that they receive,” she said.
Nurses were able to offer input on hundreds of details from the time “before the big hole in the ground was dug,” Markosek said. “We were invited up into the building before it had walls.”
Nurses were included in placement of outlets on the wall, how rooms were numbered and pieces of art that are on the walls.
“Every detail came by with that kind of input,” Mulbarger said.
Input from nursing is obvious to healthcare professionals.
“It’s very evident in walking through the building and looking at the new workflows that if nurses hadn’t had a significant impact, we wouldn’t have some of the advances that we currently have,” Barginere said.
Barry Bottino is a regional editor.