As part of Ballinger’s commitment to designing facilities that optimize the healthcare experience for patients, families and staff, our teams conduct post-occupancy evaluations (POE) on completed projects to assess and monitor how the buildings are being used. Ballinger recently published a POE on their design for the Lasko Tower at Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital, completed in 2015. The research team, led by Ballinger Principal Louis A. Meilink, Jr., AIA, ACHA, ACHE and healthcare planners Christina Grimes, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, EDAC and Debbie Phillips, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, assessed which planning and design interventions were most successful and what effect the unit design had on staff and patients.
Although the primary goal was to gather insights for an additional bed tower (currently under construction), it also offered an opportunity to compare patient satisfaction and operational performance against an existing 20-bed unit, the West Building (built in 1962 and renovated in 1998). Significant differences between the West unit and the Lasko Tower unit include a larger floor area with a racetrack organization of patient beds rather than a single-corridor layout, the inclusion of decentralized care stations between every two patient rooms, and more locations for staff charting.
The analysis assessed patient satisfaction with rooms and amenities, staff operations relative to charting and patient care, and housekeeping operations relative to material selection and ongoing maintenance. Because both of the units studied have private patient rooms, the evaluation enabled direct comparison between fall rates, HCAHPS scores (noise and cleanliness), and rates of hospital acquired infections (HAI). The study included a proximity index charting the travel distances between staff care stations, patient rooms and supplies, and assigned a cost/benefit metric to key design considerations.
The POE results suggest Lasko Tower is an improved patient care environment, and since moving in, the hospital has noted significant improvements in all categories. The insights gained through this study directly informed planning of the 96-room patient bed tower currently under construction.