Hospital test drives new OR design

Presbyterian Healthcare in Charlotte, N.C., plans to build eight new operating rooms (ORs) at its main campus, opening the new facilities in February 2011, as well as renovating eight additional ORs by June 2012. The construction is part of an ongoing $168 million expansion at the not-for-profit health system, which is a division of Winston Salem, N.C.,-based Novant Health. To make sure that it gets the most for its money, Presbyterian has built a 625-square-foot prototype on a secondary campus to test and tweak the design--and keep a lid on capital costs for reconfigurations. The average size of Presbyterian's existing ORs is 400 square feet. The new 625-square-foot size is needed to accommodate today's medical technology, which often has a large footprint.

The $80,000 mock OR will be used to "reflect the various clinical scenarios," says Dr. Thomas Zweng, senior vice president of medical affairs. Surgeons, nurses and other staff members then will be able to provide feedback to help ensure that the final product is efficient, has good workflow, and is safe for patients.

Some 40 specialties will test the prototype and offer input, which could include such simple suggestions as moving a light switch, says Kathy Malzahn, senior director of perioperative services. The first surgeon visit resulted in 40 changes to the OR design.

Once Presbyterian works out the kinks in the OR design, the system will modify the prototype so that it can be used to help plan a new $8 million ambulatory surgery center, which is slated to open in early 2011.

To learn more about Presbyterian's mock OR:
- read the Charlotte Business Journal article