We spoke with Kathy Harper, BSN, MBA, RN, EDAC, about her role as vice president for clinical coordination of the new Parkland campus, Dallas. She has overseen design and planning and now is helping to ensure the facility is ready to treat patients when doors open next year.
Q: How did your role in Design and construction of this hospital come about?
Harper: Ive been doing hospital design and construction for 20 years. I was recruited to Parkland five years ago for the purpose of this project, overseeing many elements: design, medical equipment, furniture. Now Im working on operational readiness, looking at new workflows and the
Q: What unique insights can an RN bring to a hospital design and construction project?
Harper: I cant imagine any hospital doing a job like this without clinical involvement. Nurses help inform the entire design of the space; they act as a liaison between the designer and the clinical space. Someone like me understands architect-speak, construction-speak and clinical speak. It takes all that to get everyone on the same page. Its making sure function rather than form is in the forefront.
For infection control, a lot is about ease of hand washing and the use of materials. So we use materials that are easier to keep clean; around any water source we dont put a wood countertop because that can lead to mold growth. Weve used no-wax flooring. Its easier to maintain, so were spending less time keeping the hospital clean. Ultimately, its all about putting the patient first in everything we do.
Q: Please offer tips for other RNs who might find themselves in a similar position.
Harper: The very first thing for a nurse to do is to make sure you are heard and your advice is followed. Then, you need to be truly informed, not just about infection control, but about the design of the space itself. You can assist where design meets the needs for infection control or other patient-related functions. And finally, recognize that you are the one representing the patient. Thats what this is all about, maximizing the time we can spend with the patients.