Considerations in ICU Design

Hospitals are seeing a dramatic increase in patients presenting with higher acuity levels. This often leaves hospitals struggling to find adequate space to provide the appropriate level of care. Lavallee Brensinger Architects is currently working with several clients to design Intensive Care Units (ICU) to accommodate these changing patient care needs.

Derived from our extensive healthcare experience, here are a few items to consider when creating new ICU space:

Renovation vs. New
While some facilities have the opportunity to build brand new ICU space, many are renovating existing spaces. Among the many items to consider when renovating are:

  • Location of the new unit to critical departments such as imaging or surgery.
  • Ability of existing infrastructure to support ICU needs.
  • Services above and below the existing space.
  • Existing window locations and ability to penetrate fa├žade.
  • Floor to floor heights and impact on equipment/infrastructure requirements.

Room size,type, and adaptability
Determining the type of patient room is a key step when designing a new ICU. Many hospitals are currently building variable acuity, adaptable rooms that provide space and services for all patient care levels.

  • ICU room sizes need to be larger to accommodate clearances for equipment, providers patients and their families. While room sizes vary based on the amenities provided, we find they average around 350 sf.
  • Medical gas, power, and data needs should be “right sized” to provide what is necessary for the community’s needs, while avoiding overbuilding.

Locating staff workstations and key services appropriately

  • From an observation perspective, staff need to be located bedside, immediately outside the room, and/or within the core for observation and to enable team-based care. Locating staff in a manner that allows them to constantly observe patients, without feeling isolated, is critical.
  • Walking distances to commonly used spaces such as meds, supply, soiled, and nutrition rooms need to be carefully planned to keep key items close and avoid staff fatigue.

Empower users with control over their environment
“Humanizing” the care experience for patients and their families is important to reinforce that their role in care delivery matters. From the staff’s perspective, a comfortable, collaborative work environment is important for retention and morale.

  • Allowing users, whether they be patients, caregivers or families, greater control over items such as lighting, temperature, and views empowers them.
  • St. Luke’s new ICU will incorporate a number of unique items to better staff and patients’ experiences. New auto-tuning lighting, that adjusts to support the body’s natural circadian rhythm, has been incorporated in patient rooms and core areas. In addition, new smart-glass will remove the need for blinds and will provide better privacy.