Acute care facility should make better use of space
Having had multiple visits to our new hospital over the past year, I have a few observations to make concerning the design and overall function of this facility.
The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital acute care facility includes three patient wards, housing 90 spacious, private rooms, each with an outside window.
I understand that the unique and ultra-modern, atrium-style layout is the result of much research, including cost-effective design economics, individual patient care efficiency and confidentiality, sunlight benefits to staff and patients, and the limiting of cross-infection/contamination.
As a frequent “user”, I have had the opportunity to observe our new facility in action and have experienced some “function over form” issues that I believe affect the logistics of acute and emergency room patient care.
There seems to be a continuing capacity problem with regard to available admission beds, an issue that was raised by members of the Bermuda Government in 2015, including the shadow minister, Kim Wilson, and health minister Jeanne Atherden.
I have recently experienced several instances where a morning-arrival ER patient, who then was to be admitted, was released late the same day because there was no ward room available. I also understand that admitted surgical patients are being encouraged to go home early to accommodate a new patient. I have heard that surgery bookings are being put off or delayed owing to insufficient ward capacity.
Why didn’t the design of some or all of these spacious single rooms allow for double occupancy? In situations where capacity becomes an issue, a centre curtain could then be drawn, a bed added and it becomes a double room. The total bed capacity of the three wards would be significantly increased as the need arises.
How will our new hospital handle the additional patient load of a “mass” casualty incident? We should all be concerned in this regard because even now we are at or above capacity with just the “regular” ER and surgery patient traffic. That being said, I do understand that costs were a big factor in the overall design of the hospital.
Which brings me to my final observation. I know that there is a long history of extended care, mostly elderly patients, who are occupying hospital bed spaces. These are patients who need some daily care, but should not require long-term treatment and effectively are being “abandoned” at the hospital.
There are many reasons for this. I believe it is a complex and sensitive social issue that is going to require both the Government and the community to solve. It is important that the new hospital not become a nursing home, especially when it may be at the expense of treating emergency and acute care patients in an expedient manner.
On a lighter note, I did find it curious that these luxurious, private patient rooms with their flatscreen, smart TVs have cable boxes teetering precariously on top and rudimentarily secured with plastic zip ties ... this forms part of what we, the taxpayers, are paying $1 billion for.
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