Hospitals heed patient demand for private rooms

If you aren't thinking about converting shared rooms for patients at your hospital to private rooms (assuming you haven't already done so), you may be getting left behind, if a recent article in the Washington Post is any indication. A look into hospitals throughout the D.C.-Metro area by the newspaper revealed that 23 existing or future facilities all have plans to renovate and make the switch, primarily in response to high patient demand.

"A single room is the most important design aspect for better patient care" Texas A&M architecture professor Roger Ulrich told the Post. Ulrich currently serves as a faculty fellow at the Center for Health Systems & Design. "The attitude of viewing patients as objects has shifted," he added. "Hospitals are now in the consumer service business."

Inova Fairfax Hospital, Northern Virginia's biggest with 833 beds, currently is in the midst of the area's largest renovation, which features a new general hospital tower and a women's hospital, the Post reports. The tower, which is slated to open in the fall of 2012, will cost roughly $161 million and will boast 174 private intensive care and surgical patient rooms. The new women's hospital will cost $400 million.

Debt and cash reserves will pay for the entire $850 million project.

"The public is really savvy now, and patients are starting to realize they can, and deserve to be treated well," Patrick Walters, Inova's senior vice president of strategic planning and system development, told the newspaper. "Almost everyone that comes in says, ‘If you have [a private room], we'd appreciate it.'"

Other area facilities, like Bethesda's Suburban Hospital and Manassas' Prince William Hospital, also plan to renovate to include more private rooms. The area's largest overall hospital--926-bed Washington Hospital Center--already has mostly private rooms.

Post projections set the total cost for the area-wide hospital renovations at roughly $2.1 billion.

To learn more:
- read this Washington Post article