Private rooms for all patients at Stanford’s new adult and children’s hospitals

The patient rooms will promote healing and enhance care

The acute-care patient rooms at the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford have ample space for families.
Emily Hagopian

Large windows with sweeping views. In-room sleeping areas for families. Bathrooms that meet the specific needs of hospital patients. The private rooms in the recently opened Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford expansion and the new Stanford Hospital have been designed to improve patient safety, promote healing, and enhance the patient and family experience.

“Most new hospitals are being built with single rooms because of the desire to provide privacy for patients and families, to ensure uninterrupted sleep, to provide a site for consultations with the patient and to foster a supportive ‘home away from home’ feeling,” said Norm Rizk, MD, chief medical officer for Stanford Health Care. “Providing single rooms reinforces Stanford’s desire to be a leader in innovative patient care and to meet our patients’ needs for a reassuring environment.”

George Tingwald, MD, AIA, director of medical planning for Stanford Health Care, said the hospital industry has moved toward making all patient rooms private. One reason is that viruses and bacteria pass more easily between patients sharing the same room despite consistent and thorough hand-washing and cleaning practices. “It is well-studied that private hospital rooms reduce hospital-acquired infection rates,” he said.

Fewer falls

Single-patient rooms also help reduce the incidence of falls. In adult hospitals, where a high percentage of patients are over the age of 65, negotiating the bathroom door is a primary source of falls. The new Stanford Hospital has larger bathrooms with sliding doors that will be left open at night.

At the new main building for Packard Children’s Hospital, which opened in December, the private-room design has already shown positive results. “We have seen a reduction in infections and an improved patient experience,” said Kelly Johnson, PhD, RN, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Packard.

Providing single rooms reinforces Stanford’s desire to be a leader in innovative patient care and to meet our patients’ needs for a reassuring environment.

One of the cornerstones of the private room design is that family members can stay in the hospital room at night. Every patient room in both hospitals, including those in the intensive care unit, has ample space for the care team, the patient and the family. The family space in the patient rooms at Packard Children’s Hospital features a sofa that converts into a bed, a safe for valuables and a second television.

“The Packard Children’s patient rooms are designed to be healing, comfortable spaces for the whole family,” said Johnson. “It’s not just a place for essential medical equipment and visits from doctors and nurses. It’s the place where patients and families spend most of their time, many of whom travel long distances for extended stays at the hospital.”

Having a family member room with a patient can help improve patient care, said Tingwald. Family members know the patient best, so they can quickly spot changes in a patient’s health or mental status. They also absorb important knowledge about caring for the patient, which helps improve care at home.

“We are encouraging patients’ families to spend the maximum amount of time possible with their family member, which means staying overnight and being with the patient at all times,” said Tingwald.

Improved efficiency

Private rooms provide a more efficient use of space. With shared rooms, nurses must spend a portion of each shift trying to create compatible roommate situations and reduce the risk of infection. As a result, about 20 percent of beds in shared rooms go unoccupied. With all private rooms, Stanford will be able to operate at nearly 100 percent capacity.

“We want to offer care to as many patients as possible who need our services,” said Ann Weinacker, MD, associate chief medical officer for patient care services at Stanford Health Care. “When we are unable to use beds, that decreases our patients’ access to our care.”

Faster healing

In designing the new hospitals, Stanford and Packard used evidence-based principles to improve safety and promote healing. For example, research has shown that patients who have a view of a garden or a tree outside their window, rather than a view of a brick wall, require less pain medication and are discharged sooner. Natural light also lets patients keep track of day and night, a factor in normalizing sleep-wake cycles.

“The power of design in the new Stanford Hospital is stunning,” said Tingwald, who is doubly trained as a physician and an architect. “These rooms have the largest views to nature that I have ever seen in a hospital.”

Private rooms are also quieter, another factor in achieving better sleep. “Allowing people to have the rest they want, allowing people to have the privacy they want, really improves their well-being,” said Weinacker. “And we all know that emotional well-being contributes greatly to physical well-being.”

When the new Stanford Hospital opens in 2019, every patient room will be private, including those in the intensive care unit. Once construction of the new Stanford Hospital concludes, work will begin on converting the existing hospital’s double rooms into private rooms. At Packard Children’s Hospital, all patient rooms in the new main building are private.

“The goal of offering private rooms has been part of the plan for many years,” said Tingwald. “We are well on our way.”