Nurses will benefit from new hospital

October 26, 2003|by Rhonda Dowler

As registered nurses and members of the Nursing Performance Improvement Council (PIC) at Washington County Hospital, we want to express our support for the proposed replacement hospital at the Robinwood Medical Center site for the community we serve. PIC is responsible for monitoring and assessing nursing's patient care at the hospital.

We believe that simply renovating our current facility will not accommodate the changing trends in patient care and healthcare technology. Remaining at our current location limits our ability to provide safe and efficient care to our patients. A new facility at Robinwood will provide space for advanced medical technologies, single patient rooms, and more specialized nursing services.

Medical technology is changing all the time; advances now allow us to provide many services at the bedside which were not available previously. Not only is there much more monitoring equipment in patient rooms, but also current hospital beds are 18 inches longer than in the past. Both factors necessitate single-patient rooms which cannot be accommodated in our present hospital.


From a nurse's perspective, single-patient rooms afford us the opportunity to educate and counsel our patients and their families on complete privacy. For patients, the new rooms will have private baths and will be individually climate-controlled, making them more comfortable during their stay. An added benefit for patients is that the new rooms are large enough to allow a family member to remain with the patient when needed.

Over the years, the PIC has worked diligently to improve our patients' satisfaction with their healthcare and the nursing services we provide to them. We monitor their satisfaction with their hospital experience through patient satisfaction surveys on a regular basis.

Consistently over the last several years, patients have complained about many factors related to the current hospital site - from parking, to noise, to sharing rooms with other patients, to lack of privacy. The only way that we can meet our patients' needs is to build a new facility that is designed to meet their needs.

Just as the rooms are designed for privacy, the design of the new hospital assures privacy for patients when they are traveling from one part of the building to another. Patients will be moved in specially-designated corridors and elevators, while the public will move in others. Patient rooms will be built around a triangular nursing unit, allowing a quicker response time to call lights and saving nurses valuable time.

In the new facility, nurses will have the opportunity to practice their skills in a chosen service area such as orthopedics, cardiology or surgery. This specialization will strengthen patient care, making it more focused, improving patient outcomes, and resulting in shorter hospital stays.

Not only will the proposed hospital benefit nurses who are currently employed at Washington County Hospital, but it will also help in the recruitment and retention of nursing staff. Nurses want to work in health-care facilities that offer them the opportunity to use the latest medical technology, provide the space needed to care for patients efficiently, and assure confidentiality during treatment encounters.

With an aging nursing staff - the average age for nurses is 47 years old - it is imperative that we attract young nurses to our hospital.

For more than 16 years, the Nursing Performance Improvement Council has monitored and assessed the effectiveness of patient care at Washington County Hospital.

Many of the nurses on our committee have practiced for 20 to 25 years; we have the experience required to determine the best models for patient care. At our current facility, we cannot implement those models, which would support our mission: the continued improvement of patient care.

It is our collective judgment that the residents of Hagerstown, Washington County, and the surrounding Tri-State region deserve a more efficient, effective hospital setting, allowing us to continue providing them the optimal patient care that each of us deserves.

Rhonda Dowler is chairwoman of the Nursing Performance Improvement Council.

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