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Washington County Health System
  Privacy Means Comfort

Robinwood Construction Update Newsletter


Multi-bed hospital wards disappeared decades ago. Its successor, the semi-private patient room, offers the privacy of a sliding curtain and asks patients to share the birth of a child or a serious illness with a complete stranger. As any former patient knows, double occupancy rooms stretch the definition of seclusion.

Within the limited square footage of a semi-private room, ailments, bathrooms, overhead lighting, chairs and television noise are all communal. “Our patient satisfaction surveys tell us patient roommates are a dissatisfier,” said Mary Towe, vice president of nursing for Washington County Hospital. “The lack of T.V. control, sharing a bathroom, limited privacy and visitor noise all contribute to an unpleasant hospital stay,” she commented.

With the opening of its new regional medical center, Washington County Hospital will bid farewell to semi-private patient rooms. The new hospital, slated to open in late 2010, will have 297 single patient rooms—none requiring a roommate.

According to Towe, the driving force behind the hospital’s move to single rooms is patient privacy, dignity, and family accommodations. Hospital administrators and staff agree that equally important to the competent care you receive in surgery or the emergency department is the patient room environment. Rest promotes healing. If you eliminate the stress of an unknown roommate, reduce noise levels, and add natural light, you create an improved recovery process.

Every patient room in the hospital will overlook the quiet, sprawling countryside. Comfortable sleeper chairs will allow family members or friends to spend the night. The central nursing station will generate less noise and activity because of individual workstations or pods strategically placed throughout the hospital floor.

From a hospital safety standpoint, single patient rooms eliminate double occupancy hazards. Falls increase when patients must navigate around duplicate medical equipment and visitors. Germs spread easily from roommate to roommate causing unnecessary hospital-acquired infections. Even medical errors can occur due to mistaken roommate identity.

The opportunity to build a new hospital and design a smarter patient room means more convenience and efficiency for both patients and medical personnel. Treatments and technology will be brought to the bedside versus transporting the patient to another location. Even the new hospital’s triangular floor plan will reduce steps for nurses and allow quicker patient access.

Dignity and control are the most important aspects of a single patient room during recovery or the end-of-life. Medical diagnoses, exams, and test results should not be shared with an audience. Joyous moments and heart-breaking struggles need not be overheard by strangers. The simple action of turning down the room temperature or choosing to open a window blind will give patients control during an uncontrollable time of their lives.

As Washington County Hospital employees eagerly await the technology, cohesive layout, and space of the new medical center, patients get what they have asked for—the privacy and peace of a single patient room.


© 2010
Washington County Health System
251 East Antietam Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740

TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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