CENTRAL, U.S. – Taking marching orders from none other than the patients themselves, Mercy is rethinking the health care map. With more than $600 million of Mercy construction projects in the works across four states, the goal is to create a simple, straightforward experience for patients.
“If you look at how health care facilities have historically been designed, they are like giant mazes that patients have to tunnel through when they feel their very worst,” said Cindy Beckham, Mercy’s executive director of building design. “It creates a great deal of anxiety for patients. If there is any time in someone’s life when they need the process to be simple, the people to be compassionate and the place to be as calming as possible, it’s when you seek health care.”
Over the next year, Mercy is opening more than a dozen new facilities. Within and beyond the walls of these facilities, here are a few highlights:
Local community advisory groups have provided input for Mercy facilities under construction. Shan Carter, a Spencer, Okla., resident with a rare form of Multiple Sclerosis, has served on the advisory group for Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital Oklahoma City and in doing so has provided invaluable insight.
Had it not been for Carter, wheelchair-bound for the past two years, bathrooms in the rehab facility would have not been as large. Carter and other advisory group members gave input on a mock room, trying it out and ultimately changing some key factors. The bathrooms are five inches bigger and better accommodate wheelchairs, toilet paper rolls are set at a height conducive to wheelchairs and the dining area design encourages socializing.
“We intentionally involve patients and community members in our advisory groups because we know they know best what their needs are,” said Courtney Marquez, a member of the Mercy experience team which has led advisory groups across Mercy’s four states and tracks Mercy’s 25,000-member online advisory group. “They are the voice of our customers and if they have an issue with something, we do, too. These advisory members, along with our medical staff and co-workers, changed the course of design for everything from our clinics to 200,000-square-foot buildings.”
Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO, meets with every advisory group.
“This is not about bricks and mortar. It’s about how patients experience health care, and that experience begins the moment they need it,” said Britton. “Our patients have told us that access, whether it’s getting to the facility or getting around in the building, is critical.”
Liz Kemper, mother of twin boys born eight years ago this month, never expected the unexpected. After undergoing an emergency C-section, Harrison was born at 1 pound, 10 ounces and brother Hudson at 2 pounds, 1 ounce.
“You enter another world when you walk through those doors of the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit),” said Kemper, whose boys have been in and out of Mercy’s Springfield hospital over the years. “Your life, your babies are in there. No one plans on having sick babies.”
And that’s why when Kemper was asked to serve on the family advisory board for Mercy Children’s Hospital Springfield, she knew she had to be a voice for all the children and families that would follow in her footsteps.
“If my input can make a difference, I wanted to take part,” said Kemper, a charter member of the advisory group who has met monthly at times in the past three years. “Mercy has been listening to us, making some changes along the way, and I believe it’s going to make an incredible difference.”
Thanks to community input, here are just some of the changes in the works for the unveiling of the new NICU and children’s hospital: the ability for parents to stay with their children in the NICU 24/7; a room where mom, dad and siblings can gather just down the hall from their NICU baby; a specially designed ER for children; comfortable chairs and warm kid-friendly décor.
“We know that healing environments help patients get better,” said Kerry Schuette, Mercy’s director of interior design. “When people are comfortable and their stress level is lower, they actually heal faster. We want to create healing spaces for our patients.”
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, nearly 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,700 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.
A chronological list of Mercy facilities opening in the next year and beyond:
More facility highlights: