Importance of Custom Millwork in a Healthcare Environment.
Functional healthcare design is important in high-traffic environments such as a nurse’s station, where different levels and types of work are being performed. Nurses’ stations are complex in form and use, needing to simultaneously accommodate technology and communication needs as well as multi-tasking and interactions with patients and staff.
Form following function is one of my guiding design principles, as a nurse station is one of the most functional areas in a healthcare setting, catering to both patient needs and office administration. Before planning the design of a work station, it is important to understand the workflow needs of the area: What are the storage needs and workflow processes? Who uses the station primarily, and how do the nurses interact with patients?
Office stations within healthcare environments must reflect both the healthcare model of the organization, as well as maximizing utility and visibility with patients. This often takes the form of the argument of whether work stations should be centralized or decentralized. Often times, the best solution is a combination of both. An optimal work setting often has a more central work area with smaller sub-stations, such as charting zones near patient rooms.Multiple work demands are often working simultaneously in a centralized work space, giving importance to modular design that can accommodate different work flow needs. For instance; work spaces need both open spaces that encourage patient and social interaction, as well as semi-private collaboration areas to promote group learning and worker productivity. Private or enclosed areas are also important to encourage concentration and decrease stress.
Another important aspect of healthcare design is that it anticipates workflow needs and organization. Clinical work is fast-paced and involves a massive cognizance of details. Work station designs that prioritize organizational needs help healthcare workers maintain morale and productivity in a demanding environment.
Millwork design is especially pronounced in modular sub-stations within an office environment. Sub-stations can either be free floating, with adjustable and adaptive modular products that accommodate different postures and computer monitor flexibility for peer-sharing and dual screen work. “Touch-down” work stations need custom lengths and fittings, as they are often engage within architectural elements.
Office environments are seeing an increase in architectural millwork. Customized design motifs satisfy not only functional elements but can often exemplify an organization’s ethos and mission statement. Increased productivity arises from employee satisfaction, not by cramming additional chairs and desks where they are not needed.
Natural design materials have had a documented effect on psychological well-being, with patients making positive associations to natural, relaxed settings. Millwork customization creates opportunities for both functional design and a comfortable, serene environment.