MASON CITY — A team of community partners, architects, physicians and health care associates of Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa designed the future of patient care May 10-14 — they created a “blueprint” of the hospital’s new Emergency Department.
“Constructing Mercy’s new Emergency Department will take about 100 weeks, but this is the most important week throughout the project. This is our approach to determine the ED layout, room design and process flows for people, materials and information,” said Scott Leighty, senior vice president/chief operating officer of Mercy and executive administrator of the ED project.
The week’s activities, called a 3-P event for the involvement of people, preparation and process, took the waste- and bottleneck-reducing Lean concept from manufacturing and applied it to the health care setting.
The task for the approximate 75 participants was to build a life-size model of the Emergency Department to simulate the patient, physician and associate experience.
They used real hospital equipment such as beds and monitors when available; when not, they crafted other devices, such as sinks and cupboards, from cardboard, foam board, tape and glue.
“This is the heart and soul of the project,” Leighty said.
Wood wall frames for the simulation were donated to Habitat for Humanity after the project was complete.
Three teams had their own areas of focus.
One was on the overall Emergency Department design and patient flow; the second was designing the best layout for clinical practices; and the third was on non-clinical functions of the Emergency Department. By the end of the week, all three groups had melded their ideas.
Six people from the community were represented during the 3P event as well and even though their areas of expertise were outside the scope of hospital practice their input was greatly valued.
“After the event, I was very pleased with how the week went and definitely felt that my time was well spent,” said Lt. Joe Hunt of the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Department. “My input was utilized and valued and I’m hoping that it was not just used for the 3P event but that it will be used in the final plans to make our job easier and the patients’ visit less stressful.”
This time-intense and “sometimes physically exhausting” process will build quality into the system, Leighty said.
“After the ED is built,” he said, “we don’t want to say, ‘I wish we would have done this.’ These are the things we want to address now.”