Healthcare has struggled with staffing for some time, but burnout fueled by the pandemic exacerbated the problem. With increasing turnover rates and accelerated mental health issues among healthcare workers, organizations across the U.S. are facing a staffing crisis. In fact, a 2021 report published by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) projected a shortage of 17,800-48,000 primary care physicians and 21,000-77,100 specialty care physicians by 2034.
One of the many ways healthcare organizations are trying to address the problem is by rethinking the way they design staff spaces. Mortenson surveyed healthcare professionals about facility trends and 73% “significantly agreed” and 24% “agreed” that the pandemic heightened an organization’s commitment to staff safety and well-being.
Our healthcare experts identified three key areas organizations should focus on when designing and renovating staff spaces.
1. Provide Ample Space
Are patient care and staff areas easy to navigate, or are doctors and nurses constantly bumping into equipment and each other? Open spaces promote well-being by giving staff room to breathe, both literally and figuratively.
Designing facilities with wider hallways and larger patient rooms give staff more space to navigate around equipment, which reduces the chance of injury. As we learned during the pandemic, space also allows proper distancing in areas where staff is treating patients with infectious viruses.
2. Address Physical Health and Safety
Long days filled with standing, lifting, bending, and moving equipment causes physical strain on healthcare staff, leading to injury, lost productivity and missed days. When designing staff spaces, healthcare organizations should focus on improving ergonomics in both workspaces and patient care areas.
Ergonomic chairs, workstations, and computer equipment are essential in reducing repetitive use injuries. In hospitals and long-term care facilities, it’s also important to design rooms capable of accommodating mechanical lift equipment, lateral transfer devices, and repositioning devices—all of which make patient transferring safer and less taxing on the body.
3. Promote Mental Health & Well-Being
Overstimulation stemming from bright light, noise, and crowded spaces causes physical and psychological exhaustion. Converting unused office space into respite areas provides staff with a peaceful place to rest and decompress.
Small, windowless break rooms with harsh fluorescent lighting are being swapped out for comfortable open-concept spaces with ample natural light. Another trend involves creating staff respite spaces with access to private outdoor areas. Even staff-only staircases and hallways can be thoughtfully designed to promote relaxation. The goal is to create safe, quiet areas that feel like a true escape from stressful work environments.
Implementing these changes requires an investment and working with a partner that can help you make the right decisions based on the care environment and staff needs.
Cost-Effective Solutions for Healthcare Construction
Mortenson is a healthcare construction company with the expertise to help you reinvent facility spaces efficiently and cost-effectively. With partnerships spanning 60 years and longer, you can trust our team to help you make the right choices in healthcare facility design and construction.