In 2004, Cheryl Herbert was given what she calls a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” OhioHealth, the largest hospital system in central Ohio, was moving forward with plans to build a new hospital to serve Dublin, Ohio, and its surrounding communities, and a strong leader was needed to spearhead the project. Herbert, a nurse and hospital administrator with OhioHealth, was named president of Dublin Methodist Hospital and tasked with developing a world-class, patient-centered health care facility.
Herbert is working with the Pebble Project of the Center for Health Design, an RWJF grantee, as she and her team develop plans for the new construction project. The Pebble Project works with hospital partners across the country to demonstrate how health care facility design can improve the quality of care for patients, enhance operational efficiency and productivity and increase staff engagement and retention. Dublin Methodist Hospital joined the Pebble Project in December 2004 after learning about the program from a consultant working on the design of the new building.
“We signed on to the Pebble Project because it provides access to resources we ordinarily don't have, in terms of experts and research,” Herbert says. Additionally, she is eager to "give something back" to the industry through the research Dublin will do and hopes to help future generations build better buildings.
Herbert's background as a nurse proved a tremendous asset as she began this project, particularly as she considered ways to provide a better working environment for nurses. “I'm a nurse. I can talk about nurses intelligently. I've been where they are–I've worked nights, weekends and holidays,” she explains. Herbert knew she also needed the input of OhioHealth's nursing staff to execute the new construction project effectively. She works with about a dozen advisory teams offering input into the facility's design, and staff nurses have provided guidance in the design of rooms and medical-surgical units.
Dublin Methodist Hospital will showcase many design features that should provide nurses with more time to care for patients at the bedside, including an environment that is fully digital, wireless and as paperless as possible. Dublin plans to use a mostly electronic medical record, with the aim of giving nurses the flexibility to complete clinical documentation in the patient room.
At the new Dublin Methodist Hospital, there will not be a typical nursing station, centrally located on a patient floor. Instead, there will be small gathering stations (approximately six on a 20-bed unit) where nurses can complete work on a computer. Medication and supplies will be located in two separate areas of the nursing unit. These designs will cut down on the travel time and distance for nurses to hunt and gather supplies for their patients, allowing them to spend more time at patients' bedsides.
As a nurse, Herbert also understands the need for nurses to have quiet spaces where they can truly get a break. While visiting other hospitals, she found that staff areas seldom receive the same attention as patient and public areas, a factor that often contributes to staff dissatisfaction. Herbert said that keeping Dublin's staff happy and engaged is a serious consideration in the design of the new facility. To that end, there will be separate conference rooms and staff lounges that are pulled away slightly from the care units, providing nurses with quiet spaces for downtime.
In addition to building a new facility from the ground up, Herbert is enthusiastic about the opportunity to build an entirely new organizational culture at Dublin Methodist Hospital. “People who are hired will be supportive of the culture I want to create,” she said. She will be looking for nursing staff who embody “servant leadership,” who are there to serve the patient and willing to step up as advocates for their patients and families.