Institute for Patient-Centered Design

Patient-Centered Design Online

Publication of Institute for Patient-Centered Design, Inc.

October/November 2013, Issue 26

In This Issue
The NICU is a Wondrous Place
Partners Make Major Contributions
Lactation Design Update
Quick Links


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We hope to see you this weekend!
We are so excited to present a major program at this year's Healthcare Design Conference!  As we prepare the finishing touches on our Patient Experience Simulation Lab, we are most enthusiastic about sharing the life altering stories of patients and their families with a group of designers, eager to collaborate on new ideas to improve the environment of care. 
Below, you will find the story of one mother, who has graciously shared her personal experience as a postpartum mother of a NICU patient.  Nannette Salasek will join us in Orlando to speak with attendees of our workshop about just what is needed to provide for NICU families.  Please read below and be inspired.  We hope to see you this weekend at the conference!
 Tammy Thompson


Win a Free Pass to the Patient Experience Simulation Lab!
Lifespan Healthcare, our partner for the 2013 Patient & Family-Centered NICU model, will provide one lucky conference participant a free pass to the 2013 Patient Experience Simulation Lab.  If you are registered for the Healthcare Design Conference, please visit for your chance to win.


The NICU is a Wondrous Place

By Nannette Salasek, NICU Mother and Family Support Specialist 

The NICU is a wondrous place. It's a place where the most fragile of infants go to hopefully receive life saving medical care. No other place in the world tries to imitate a mother's womb with a combination of soft, yet efficient, lighting, gentle, yet sterile, surfaces and state-of-the-art medical equipment. It's a careful dance. You rejoice with the parents of a baby that has thrived and can now go home, and within the same walls, moments later you offer condolences to the devastated parents of a young life that modern medicine could not save. I know this place well and I hope - with the help of brilliant minds - we can come to build the best NICU the world has ever known.


When we found ourselves pregnant with our third child, we were thrilled. I could not wait to learn what we were having so I could immediately design this new child's world. From a name to wall colors to even the tiniest detail on socks; I wanted to be totally prepared. After having a healthy pregnancy with both our son and daughter, I feared nothing at all. The next few events are those for which no one can be prepared. Those tense moments at my 22 week ultrasound are forever engraved in my mind. When our doctor walked into the exam room, she had tears in her eyes. She proceeded to share our new baby was a girl, but there was something else. Our precious unborn child had Spina Bifida.


Her diagnosis of Myelomeningecile brought with it Chiari Malformation, Hydrocephalus, and a high risk of paralysis. Immediately we had to mourn the loss of the perfectly healthy baby we had envisioned, and come to understand this new child and all the medical issues she would encounter. All of a sudden being prepared took on a whole different meaning. Our hearts shattered in a million pieces and trying to learn everything we could about our baby's diagnosis was our only solace. My husband came across doctors that had pioneered in utero fetal surgery for the closure of Spina Bifida.


Just weeks after receiving the devastating blow, we flew to Nashville, TN where physicians offered hope and a chance to protect our baby's vulnerable spinal cord while she continued to grow within me. After a successful surgery at 26 weeks gestation, I returned home with orders to remain on strict bed rest and deliver our precious angel via c-section no later than 36 weeks.


Delivery day arrived and our daughter entered the world at a strong weight of 6 pounds! The doctors and nurses were thrilled at how well she was doing, however with such a severe diagnosis, our baby girl needed to go to this special place called the NICU. After hours in recovery, I longed to hold my child. Once I got feeling back into my arms and the anesthesia began to wear off, the nurses pushed me in my huge hospital bed into the NICU. "Where are we going?" I asked as the confused faces of other parents keeping careful watch over their babies followed me. We finally reached our baby's isolette and as soon as I took her in my arms I became violently sick from the anesthesia. I was mortified! It was far from the beautiful moment I had envisioned when I would hold my child for the first time. The NICU parents that had scrubbed their hands and worn gowns to protect their fragile infants watched in horror as I got sick. Please take me away, I yelled. My post partum room was on the 7th floor. My baby had to stay on the 2nd floor NICU. I begged the nurses to call me as soon as she cried in hunger. By the time I received the call and slowly got into a wheelchair to travel down several floors, my tiny little girl had spent all her energy crying and could not feed properly. The nurses showed me the feeding room, which had been crafted together with a couple of hospital sheets hung in the corner of the room. A very hard upright chair was placed there and the old fashioned light above was far from calming. I ended up sleeping in the chair by my baby's isolette so I could be close by when she needed to eat again.


Nannette Salasek & Baby
remember feeling terrible that I got to love and cuddle my newborn right next to a mother whose child's condition kept worsening. I did not want my doctors to share any good news out loud for fear that I would add to another mother's devastation. The constant noise of monitors and alarms going off made finding peace impossible. I remember finally having a break down outside the NICU doors. I sobbed and begged the neonatologist to allow my child to room with me in the post partum unit and tried to convince them they could still run all the necessary tests during the day. After a week in the NICU, our baby finally joined me at bedside. Having her close to hold and nurture made a huge difference not only with baby's health, but with my recovery as well. I had the opportunity to regulate the temperature and lighting in my room. I learned my baby's cues and experienced the amazing bond between mother and child that is so natural.


Since our third beautiful child was born, we have had three more. Two of them have visited the NICU for a short period and I did not even recognize my surroundings this time. The main NICU floor was made of soft material that not only minimized noise from footsteps, but I am sure provided comfort for our hero nurses that stood all day caring for our babies. Each area had its own recliner chair, where parents could hold and bond with their newborn. This time I also encountered private NICU rooms for the sickest of children, beautifully decorated feeding rooms where comfort and lighting are carefully orchestrated, and thoughtful improvements that bring Patient and Family-Centered Care to life within our hospital. We even saw step down family rooms, where a family can stay in the hospital with their newborn until they feel comfortable with all the medical equipment they will have to monitor on their own at home.


I am excited to see what better innovations the future holds for the design of our NICUs. I hope all families walk away thinking - what a wondrous place this truly is. 



Our Partners Make Major Contributions to

The Patient-Experience Simulation Lab

By Elizabeth S. Jones

The 2013 Patient and Family Centered NICU Project would not be possible without the generous support of our partnership team. We would like to recognize four outstanding organizations for their generous contributions to make this project a reality.

Turner Construction, a leading healthcare construction firm in the country, has managed the installation of the NICU model. The Institute is pleased to partner with such a reputable name in the construction industry. Larry Blackburn, Turner's Florida-based healthcare director has been instrumental in this model's installation. While Blackburn understands that creating a full-scale mock up in a matter of hours may be difficult, he has made steps to prefabricate major elements, and strategically sequence events to ensure a seamless process. Turner believes in the importance of patient-centered design, and he is "excited to work with partners like the Institute who are committed to improving patient outcomes." According to Blackburn, Turner stays in the forefront of effective healthcare design through initiatives such as the Turner Knowledge Network, because "construction cannot make a lot of impact on patient outcomes but we can help influence in order to improve the healing environment."

Once the framework is in place, the next major task is providing infrastructure with well researched, thoughtfully designed equipment. Lifespan Healthcare, LLC will provide state-of-the-art medical equipment for the NICU Simulation Lab. John Kasten, managing partner with Lifespan Healthcare explains that their headwall system and equipment rails are highly effective and adequately designed to be non-intimidating not only to the patient, but also to family members. This is possible through the clean, well-organized headwall columns that have been designed in accordance with the most current NICU design standards. Not only does this equipment provide accommodations that encourage extensive family involvement, but it also promotes safe clinical procedures at the bedside, and adapts to receive other headwall equipment. According to Kasten, Lifespan "did not want to be the biggest, but the best in a more focused area." It is Lifespan's attention to the intricate details that impact the healthcare experience that sets them apart as a leader in equipment innovation for the benefit of patients, families and staff.

While the physical model of the Simulation Lab is essential, the virtual experience is another key component. WorldViz, LLC will again contribute to the Lab by providing a virtual walk through. According to Jeremy Sarchet, sales and marketing representative with WorldViz, LLC; details are often overlooked in typical physical mock-ups. However, the virtual mock-up experience reduces costs and is far more flexible than typical physical mock-ups. Sarchet explains that the virtual experience "plays on the nature of the 'visual brain' and provides a powerful experience in a very natural way." The WorldViz virtual portion of last year's workshop really intrigued participants. As a result, the team is back by popular demand. They have made improvements to the technology and intend to enhance workshop participants' virtual experience through improved photo realism and new interaction devices.

The team from Georgia Tech's SimTigrate Design Lab is able to effectively merge simulation and integration through evidence-based simulation research. Megan Denham, a member of the research faculty at SimTigrate will work with a team of researchers during the workshop, to provide references to the evidence on topics discussed.   The team has also created an augmented reality experience that will allow participants to explore the top three winning projects through a mobile application designed by its faculty. According to Denham, the design approach of the past has been to "build a building and fit people into it." SimTigrate has a mission to improve evidence-based design and believes it is important to "figure out the needs first and build a space around that." Denham, who is also actively working with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta in the SimTigrate Design Lab, believes that the partnership with the Institute's Patient Experience Simulation Lab is not only a great way to educate people on evidence-based design, but will also pair well with SimTigrate's initiatives and current projects.

Institute for Patient-Centered Design is quite proud to partner with these outstanding organizations for this project. Lifespan Healthcare will transport this learning lab back to its headquarters in Norcross, Georgia, where the team will reassemble the model and continue partnering with the Institute to present the Patient Experience Simulation Lab to healthcare design professionals in the local area throughout 2014.


New Lactation Design Webinar Series
Lactation Design

This year, we are offering a free monthly webinar on Lactation Design. We have partnered with a creative team of designers to provide information to lactation professionals, employers and their design teams, and anyone interested in improving facility accommodations to support breastfeeding.


Effective March 23, 2010, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk." 

(United States Department of Labor. [2010] "Break Time for Nursing Mothers")


This webinar provides step by step information for establishing lactation rooms in new and existing facilities, as well as new and innovative solutions to create a clean supportive environment for users. For more information, or to register, please visit  Participants may earn one AIA HSW Learning Unit for attending this webinar.

Calendar of Events
November 13, 2013, 1 pm - 2 pm EDT
"Lactation Design," A Free Webinar on Lactation Room Solutions 

November 14 - 16, 2013
Healthcare Design Exchange

Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel; Orlando, FL



2013 Healthcare Design Conference

November 16-19, 2013| Orlando, FL



We are proud to continue our association with the Healthcare Design Conference! This annual event engages the leaders in healthcare facility design on the most current, innovative, and evidence-based advances in the field.


2013 Healthcare Design Conference

Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center 


As a courtesy to our readers, we have listed information about upcoming events and links to related websites for more details. This does not necessarily constitute a relationship between Institute for Patient-Centered Design and any of the websites, events or organizations listed. Nor does this represent an endorsement or guarantee of any kind. While we strive to keep such information updated, we make no legal or otherwise binding commitment to do so. We do not guarantee any of the information on the websites listed. Nor do we guarantee the events themselves. 

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The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute for Patient-Centered Design, Inc. We respect the rights of patients, family members and professionals to express their opinions and welcome comments on the topics published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to edit and publish comments and letters at our discretion.


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