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EMH staff runs scenarios in cardboard mock-up
Copyright © 2012 Times Citizen 06/23/2012
BY LAURA SMITH  lsmith@iafalls.com

You’re supposed to be comatose,” a nurse complains to Sherri Ross as she sits up on the stretcher.

 Ross chuckles and complies, lying back down in a room made of cardboard, surrounded by fake electrical equipment labeled with magic marker.

It was the second public mock-up of the new Ellsworth Municipal Hospital building. The first mock-up was of the emergency wing and took place at the Hardin County Fairgrounds in October. The one that took place on Tuesday was just a patient room, and since all the rooms will be virtually identical, the space needed for the mock-up was much smaller. The simulation was made available for public viewing on the Drill Room floor at the National Guard Armory in Iowa Falls.

Members of the nursing staff set up cardboard walls to mimic what a patient room in the new hospital will look like, and ran scenarios — everything from a Code Blue to performing a chest x-ray, to admitting a baby crib.

Director of Nursing Steve Mulford said they were making notations on how equipment and furniture was arranged in the room, and whether there were certain supplies that should be kept in the rooms that currently aren’t.

“We wanted to reduce the number of trips for nurses, so they could maximize the amount of time they spend with patients,” he said.

Concern about the experience and comfort of patients and their families was at the forefront of their minds when they designed the new patient rooms, Mulford said. They moved around mock pieces of equipment, and looked for things such as whether or not the cords would trip a patient using a walker as they tried to enter the bathroom.

Mulford said the experience was great for team-building.

“I think in any business, it’s beneficial to break the old way of thinking and challenge each other to think critically,” he said. “It ups the level of care.”

To help the nurses run the scenarios was Sherri Ross, who laid on the stretcher and let the nurses do everything from attempt to revive her to pretend to run IVs. Ross said she works in purchasing, so it was interesting to watch the nurses at work.

“I don’t really know what their day-to-day work life is like, and now I get to see a little bit of that,” she said.

As the nurses ran each scenario, they made notes on large sheets of paper pinned to the cardboard. Things such as, “Shelf under TV low enough for flowers and candy,” and “Shelf on closet wall by family davenport for cups/phones/books” were just some of the smaller details they paid attention to. Others included where to put the bathroom door, and how many outlets should be placed (and where) to keep cords out of the way.

“It feels like we’re designing a huge, huge house,” said Sue Mc-Dowell, EMH ancillary services director.

She said the staff also helped pick out the colors of the new rooms, which consist of earthbrowns and grayish-blue hues.

“Soothing colors. Healing colors,” she said.

Some of the other changes to patient rooms include putting labor and postpartum in one room. The hospital will also have a bariatric room, which is designed for patients who weigh more than 400 pounds. Right now, McDowell said they have to request an outside company to bring in special equipment to accommodate someone of that size. Now, they will have it onhand.

Dr. Andy Goodner said that what stood out to him the most was how much more space they will have.

“The highlight of seeing this, even in cardboard, is that you get a sense of space that you don’t get from an architect’s drawing,” he said. “The hospital now is way too small, and being in one of these feels a lot better.”

The new patient rooms, he said, will be 1 1/2 times larger than the ones they’re using now.

EMH CEO Cherelle Montanye said she was pleased with how well the mock-up went.

“Everybody truly embraces and understands that it’s not about the building, but what we do in the building,” she said. n

 EMH Nurse Team runs patient scenarioes in Mock patient room


Ellsworth Municipal Hospital staff built a mock inpatient room at the National Guard Armory in Iowa Falls this week to test the design of the new hospital using volunteer “patients.”


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Hansen Family Hospital | 920 South Oak Street | Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126 | 641-648-7000

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