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Patient experience in focus in hospital construction

Patient experience in focus in hospital construction

Finland is an international pioneer when it comes to hospital construction. As part of the front yard project at Tampere University Hospital (Tays), three new hospital buildings have been constructed, with development of various operations and the patient experience forming a foundation of the planning work.

Three new hospital buildings were constructed as part of the front yard project: the new D building, serving as the new main entrance; the N building – the Tays Heart Hospital; and the L building, serving as the children’s and adolescents’ hospital. As part of the project, a new underground carpark was also created.

In September, Tays celebrated the opening of three new buildings in the front yard of the hospital. The front yard renovation project is part of the programme to reform the hospital’s operations, where good, customer-centric care and facilities that promote heightened productivity are being renewed. This is the largest construction project in Tays’ history.

 

Our starting point involved surveying the state of the current facilities and the potential need for new facilities. In accordance with the results of this surveying work, we wanted to preserve spaces that already existed and worked well, whilst renovating those that displayed shortcomings or required alterations.

“Our starting point involved surveying the state of the current facilities and the potential need for new facilities. In accordance with the results of this surveying work, we wanted to preserve spaces that already existed and worked well, whilst renovating those that displayed shortcomings or required alterations“, explains Director of Development for the Reform Programme Isto Nordback.

The children’s and adolescents’ hospital was the first to be completed, opening to patients in September 2019. The D building opened in January 2020. Pirkanmaa Hospital District was responsible for the project, which cost approximately EUR 250 million in total.

 

Annual patient transfers reduced by 1,500 kilometres

The planning of the front yard project at Tays was very operations-oriented, and the client’s clear vision made the planning work far easier.

“The building users had been considering alterations to their own operations before even sitting down with the architects. Good ground work made it easier to design the spaces to correspond with the needs that had already been surveyed“, says Architect Niina Rissanen of architecture firm Tähti-Set Oy, who served as the lead designer for the D wing and senior project architect.

The building users had been considering alterations to their own operations before even sitting down with the architects. Good ground work made it easier to design the spaces to correspond with the needs that had already been surveyed.


Each hospital infrastructure system entails its own challenges. At Tays these challenges came in the form of the fragmented nature of the facilities and the long distances between parts of units, which influenced both perception of the spaces and efficiency of operations.

“Our starting point was positioning the different operations in units that were as compact as possible. One of our goals here was to cut back on unnecessary patient transfer journeys between different facilities. Thanks to the new space solutions, internal patient transfers have been cut by as much as 1,500 km a year in musculoskeletal surgery activities, for example“, states Rissanen.

Involvement of staff and patients

Tays’ care staff were given the opportunities to give input on what they wanted from the new facilities during the initial stages of the planning work, as well as the chance to explore a 3D model of the facilities in the special CAVE facilities.

Patients were also invited to take part in workshops, and with support from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, young patients were able to have their say on the external appearance of the facilities.

Nordback is keen to emphasise that growing healthcare costs influence the kind of requirements placed on hospital construction. One objective of the Tays project was to serve patient customers better than before and increase productivity by making operations more efficient.

“When doing something new, you always have to take risks. However, real-world experiences encouraged us to implement some more innovative solutions too. It is only when the buildings start being used properly that we will see how successful we have been“, states Nordback.

Atmosphere and safetytampere nature

The comfort of patients and their friends and family is being taken into account better than before in hospital design work. Attention has been paid to lighting, colours and the atmosphere of the new Tays facilities. Local nature is a particular theme of the art work on display.

“Large-scale, nature-themed images bring the wall and ceiling surfaces to life. The colours and imagery on different floors are focused on different seasons and the landscapes of Pirkanmaa“, explains Rissanen.

Large-scale, nature-themed images bring the wall and ceiling surfaces to life. The colours and imagery on different floors are focused on different seasons and the landscapes of Pirkanmaa.

tampere blueOrientation and signage around the broader hospital area have also been key focus areas. Each building and wing has its own identifying letter and colour, which are shown both outside and inside. The main colour in the children’s and adolescents’ hospital is blue, whilst in the D building it is yellow.

 

 

 

 

Acoustics have been taken into account at all stages of the planning work

“A hospital environment is an acoustically challenging location: operating theatres, patient rooms and telephone conversations all have very different acoustic characteristics and requirements, which are based on both the wellbeing of employees and patient safety“, states Rissanen.

For example, the first barn operating theatre in the Nordic countries, where three patients can be operated on at the same time, has very particular acoustic requirements. In operating and delivery rooms, the solutions used include not just acoustic ceilings but also acoustic strips at ceiling level in accent colours and featuring different images.

The acoustics of the impressive main foyer in particular have drawn praise. In the open, glass-ceilinged space the acoustic surface can be found in the walls and in the casing of the rafters.

“Acoustics play a major role that is not necessarily even given a second thought. The acoustic environment creates a sense and an atmosphere of safety – which is key in a hospital environment“, states Rissanen.

 

This article is a free translation of an original text in Finnish by Eveliina Miettunen. Find it here.
 


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