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5 things Healthcare Professionals should consider when designing Hospital Headwalls
Durability and Cleanability: The hospital headwall is arguably the most abused wall space in the entire healthcare facility. When patients’ lives are in jeopardy, the last thing the medical team should have to think about is how delicately they dock the patient bed in front of the headwall. During emergency situations, beds are frequently rolled into the patient room at high speeds until they are stopped in motion by the headwall where they are intended to reside. Walls need to be built to withstand the abuse these walls receive. They also need to be easily cleaned or repaired when the wall is marred, scratched, or dented in an effort to aid with infection control and simply to keep the headwall looking fresh. Although it has been used for years, rigid vinyl wall protection doesn’t hold up over the long haul and still requires maintenance and replacement in time. With all of the options out there, it’s almost like the only way to build a wall to withstand all the abuse a headwall receives is to clad it in steel!
Adaptability: The healthcare space is constantly evolving along with technology and new patient needs. Hospital headwalls need to be designed to evolve as well. When different levels of acuity are required, headwalls should be built to adjust to the needs of each patient. When maintenance or headwall updates are required, it’s important for the facilities team to be able to quickly and easily make the change or repair with limited downtime. The focus should be to keep heads in beds so healthcare professionals can focus on maximizing the number of lives they touch. Needless to say, for the for-profit healthcare systems out there, keeping heads in beds will also help mitigate any lost revenue associated with having a patient room out of service for multiple days at a time. Finally, headwalls which can adapt to their ever-changing environment should also give you the ability to refresh the look and finish in the future without having to go to the expense of replacing all the interior medical gases and electrical wiring.
Aesthetics: With the hospital headwall being the single biggest aesthetic focal point in most patient rooms, it’s important to consider the way they look. After all, they play a huge role in defining the comfort and feel of the patient room environment. Also, since most patient satisfaction surveys are filled out by a patient’s loved ones, it’s important that they feel comfortable and at peace in the patient room space too. Fresh and current finishes which are well-coordinated with the other architectural elements in the patient room are critical. Finally, as healthcare staff walks in and out of similar looking patient rooms each day, it can be frighteningly too easy for the caregiver to be confused between patients and the rooms in which they reside; especially during night time hours when lighting is low. What if there were some visual queues to help aid the medical team in differentiating between patients? Sleek trim details, various backlit images, different colored ambient lighting, and the ability to create custom looks on each patient room headwall can help to differentiate between patient rooms and reduce human error.
Customization: Every healthcare facility is different and they all have different processes and acuity levels. It is important to make sure the hospital headwalls and other medical equipment fit each medical staff’s preferences and workflow to ensure efficiency and organization during the caregiving process. Medical teams have too many other things to think about to have to worry about managing the various wires and hoses in the headwall space while they’re trying to treat a patient. Rather than trying to force fit your process to meet a manufacturer’s standard headwall design though, consider finding a partner who will work with you to create a headwall design which is specific to your needs and workflow. It will be important to find a supplier who can customize medical gas and electrical outlet locations, accessory rail placement, and nurse call monitoring systems without any special engineering fees or increased cost.
Full service partner: Frequently, most prefabricated hospital headwall systems are owner furnished contractor installed. When that is the case, the contractor usually gets the drywaller or electrical subcontractor to install the product. This is usually met by the subcontractor with reluctance, inferior product knowledge, and oftentimes higher installation pricing. This type of arrangement can also create a lot of finger pointing if problems arise after the installation. One may ask, “was the problem a manufacturer or installer issue?” Also, when you think about it, wouldn’t you prefer to trust the most defining aesthetic space in the patient room to craftsmen as opposed to the drywaller or electrician on the job? Consider using a headwall supplier who will manage and install their own product who has a reputation for commercial quality craftsmanship. On average, this will help ensure a better fit and finish, lower installation costs, and less finger pointing if problems arise.
Written by Andrew Ward
June 1, 2018
forWard Hospital Headwall System
7330 Cockrill Bend Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37209