Skip to Content

Private Rooms: Centered on Patient Needs

It's a given. Patients admitted to Mercy Medical Center for acute care will have their own private room. Private rooms are now synonymous with the Mercy Touch® and something no other hospital in the Corridor offers.  It's all about centering care around the patients' needs.

Private rooms offer special comforts and increased privacy, as well as the peacefulness that helps patients rest and feel better. So when Mercy began considering making a move to all-private rooms as part of its long-term planning initiative, the choice to move forward was clear.

Renovations began more than four years ago and in the final phase of its conversion to all private patient rooms, Mercy recently completed the eighth floor of the inpatient tower, now designated as the Perrine Oncology and Neurosurgery Centers. Leading off the renovations was the transformation of the ninth floor Cardiac-Stroke Center which opened in August 2004. Renovations to the fifth floor Pulmonary Medicine Center and the fourth floor Surgical Inpatient Center took place in 2005 and the third floor Orthopaedic Center and second floor Intensive Care Center were finished in 2006.

Thanks to careful planning and sensitive design, Mercy's renovated rooms offer greater comfort, privacy and quiet. And while patient comfort is a key element of care, another motivation behind the change is to help patients heal and recover faster.

National studies show that patients in private rooms have shorter hospital stays, require less pain medication, and rest and heal better because of the quieter, more nurturing environment, says Carol Watson, Mercy's Senior Vice President of Clinical Services. Single-patient rooms have also been found to reduce the spread of infection and incidence of medical errors.

Patients, staff and physicians applaud the move to all private rooms. Recessed doorways to patients' rooms, alcoves with supplies for patient care, and carpeted hallways contribute to the quieter environment that also keeps nurses closer to patients. Patients can rest and sleep better, with less disruption and stress. That, in turn, promotes healing and recovery.

"The staff will now have the patient care equipment they need right at the bedside.  This will improve patient outcomes, productivity and enhance job satisfaction for those of us who work in the new Centers," said Jeanne Noble, Nurse Manager, Perrine Oncology and Neurosurgery Centers.

Providing private rooms also decreases the need for transferring patients. Patients in semi-private rooms would frequently request private rooms, Watson says, or asked to be moved because of incompatibility with roommates. Those transfers took up staff time, and may have delayed discharge or exacerbated patients' conditions.

Patients in semi-private rooms are more likely to be disturbed by other patients and their visitors, and can develop medical conditions that require them to be moved. That can disrupt the healing process as well.

Hospitals offering private rooms have reported fewer patient falls, fewer health care-acquired infections, fewer medication errors and less use of narcotics. Patients are more satisfied, and their average length of stay is shorter, as well.

With the latest technology at their fingertips, patients can now control their room's CD/DVD player, television, blinds, thermostat, and other comforts. That allows nurses to focus on other patient needs.

"When you're sick, you want to be alone," Watson says. "As we opened up the environment to privacy, we've minimized disruptive elements. Just having control of your own space helps with recovery."

Patients can also directly contact their nurses, thanks to Mercy's wireless, voice-activated communications system. It helps nurses respond more quickly. And decentralized supply areas are now closer to patient rooms, which saves steps and time for nurses.

The new private rooms' bathrooms are larger, which helps patients' mobility. The spacious rooms have improved lighting and accommodate family visits more easily. The setup is also more conducive to private discussions among family, patients, and physicians.

"We have had great feedback from physicians," Watson says. "They can have much more open conversations with their patients because they're in private rooms. Those consultations should be confidential and that was difficult in semi-private rooms."

Now that acute care patient rooms are fully private, Watson says Mercy is evaluating their effects, measuring efficiency and patients' response on several levels. Already, staff and patients say the benefits are real, and the look and feel of the patient care areas reflect the Mercy Touch.  100% private.  It's a given.