Press Releases

Design of Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare's new campus project featured at Planetree conference

For immediate release, October 22, 2008

Cassandra Sura, Public Relations Associate, 630-993-5739

ELMHURST — “Instead of beginning our planning for the new Elmhurst Memorial Hospital by thinking about what we wanted the space to look like, we thought about what we hoped to achieve in terms of patients’, employees’ and visitors’ experiences,” said Gail Warner, assistant to the president for strategic planning and special projects.

The use of Planetree principles as a guide for designing Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare’s (EMHC) new campus was the topic of a presentation made by Warner and project architects Robert Sharrow of Albert Kahn Associates and Robert Pratt of Pratt Design Studio at the annual Planetree conference on Oct. 20 in Chicago. Planetree affiliates from all over the world attend the annual conference to share ideas for improving the patient experience and to reinforce patient-centered values among each other.

“Few Planetree affiliates have the opportunity to apply Planetree’s philosophy from the ground up,” Warner said. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to share our strategy for the new campus with other Planetree affiliates and have our project featured as a model for others.”

Features that affect experience
Elements in the new Hospital’s design that bring the Planetree principles to life include private patient rooms that encourage interaction between patients and staff, meditation rooms that help caregivers care for themselves and family zones in every patient room that provide an inviting space for loved ones.

“When designing the new campus, we considered the experience of everyone who enters the facility,” Warner said. “There are lots of family spaces throughout the new campus that encourage patients’ loved ones to be part of the care experience.”

Other elements of the facility that support EMHC’s Planetree philosophy of healing the mind, body and soul include:

  • Information and Education
  • Wireless Internet access throughout the facility
  • TVs in patient rooms used for medical education
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Volunteers baking cookies on nursing units
  • On-demand “room service” food orders and delivery
  • Healing Arts
  • Artwork niches at the end of hallways
  • Music and water features in lobbies
  • Healing Environments
  • Large windows and rooftop gardens
  • Wellness boutique within retail zone

Applying healing concepts to outpatient settings
Planetree conference attendees are inspired by the way that Planetree affiliates from around the world incorporate holistic healing into their environments.

“It’s really exciting to be part of an organization that is building a brand new hospital that supports healing of the mind, body and soul for all those who enter, but it’s not just inpatients who will benefit,” said Mark Hoffman, director of ambulatory property management and development. Hoffman attended the 2007 Planetree conference to get ideas for how to incorporate the healing philosophy at the seven Elmhurst Clinic sites. “The vast majority of encounters with patients are through outpatient care, giving us a lot of opportunity to impact those patients’ experiences as well,” Hoffman said.

Since EMHC adopted the Planetree philosophy nearly a year ago, initiatives that bring more caring and kindness to healthcare have been implemented throughout the organization, many of which affected outpatient care as well.

  • As part of the greeter program, volunteers welcome and offer to walk patients to their destinations within the Hospital, Center for Health and Elmhurst Clinic on Schiller Street in Elmhurst.
  • Currently, the Elmhurst Clinic is enhancing the waiting room experience and making exam rooms more comfortable for patients at all seven of its sites in the communities surrounding Elmhurst.

Spirit of Planetree award presented to EMHC family birthing center nurse
For personalizing and demystifying the healthcare experience, Deb Schwass, R.N., Family Birthing Center nurse clinician, was recognized at the Spirit of Planetree awards celebration during the Planetree conference October 20 through 22.

“Deb truly understands the patient experience,” said Jean Lydon, associate director of Patient Care Services. “She comforts families and laughs and cries with her patients. Co-workers say that with every patient, Deb is like a mom spoiling her favorite child.”

Recognition of the Spirit of Planetree award winner at the Planetree conference promotes patient centered care by publicly acknowledging the character and quality of the caregivers who are serving the community in the Planetree network.

Planetree is a non-profit organization that works with hospitals and healthcare facilities to develop and implement patient-centered care in a healing environment. In becoming a Planetree member, EMHC will have help creating an atmosphere that cultivates healing of the mind, body and spirit through a value-based approach that encourages patients to become actively involved in their own care.

Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare Network

This site is part of the Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare network of Web sites, which covers a variety of topics using the same philosophy: When it comes to medical care, we know that you have a lot of options. And we want you to know that you're more than a patient to us. You're an individual. We would appreciate the opportunity to provide you with state-of-the-art medical care and down-to-earth, personalized attention.

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