Hospital Trends: A Patient Lift in Every Room

Patient safety and satisfaction are the cornerstones of many new design and construction decisions in the healthcare industry. One piece of equipment that plays a huge role is the patient lift. A patient lift is used to transport a patient who needs assistance around their room and to the bathroom – ensuring the safety of not only the patient but the nursing staff as well.

Until recently, most hospitals have several mobile patient lift units that are moved around the facility where they’re needed. What if you had one installed in every room? Imagine how much safer and easier mobility would be for many patients and employees.

Certain hospitals are making patient lift systems a requirement for all new construction. Hilliard Architects has completed several projects with the VA Northern California Health Care System and has had the opportunity to tackle this challenge.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Transitions: The most common and necessary track is from the patient’s bed to their bathroom. Special accessories that attached to the tracks can help solve the problems of door frames and transitions.
  • Charging the system: Most patient lifts have batteries that are charged in their base position. Some newer systems charge the unit as it runs along its track, however not all accessories work with them because it requires the charge to be able to travel along the track.
  • Total control: Several systems offer a power traverse lift system. This means the patient lift is motorized and does all the work itself, a nurse only has to control where the patient is moving to.

Not all patient lift manufacturers can provide all of the features desired at this time, but they are continually working to do so. For our project, our design team worked closely with our client to decide which features and manufacturers were the best for this project, gaining a lot of in-depth knowledge on the process.

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Katie Wilson, M Arch, is a health care designer at Hilliard Architects. Katie has spent the past year designing an entire floor of new, single bed patient rooms at the VA Sacramento Medical Center. This renovation repurposes clinics and lock-down psychiatric space into a 25-bed step-down unit with distributed nursing, drugs, and supplies. When senior VA executives attended a ThedaCare symposium, they were impressed with the potential for a 70 percent increase in caregiver time spent with patients that could be so facilitated—and with the positive patient response to additional time spent with caregivers. It is clear that Hilliard Architects understands this treatment concept and has translated it into design. Katie researched patient lifts as part of this project.