In her book Notes on Nursing, originally published in 1859, Florence Nightingale stressed the importance of a number of environmental factors that are now understood to be critical to patient care, such as cleanliness, noise control, natural light and views of nature. Nurses have long understood that “good design is good medicine,” says Jennie Evans, R.N., senior vice president and associate principal for Dallas-based architecture firm HKS Inc.

Despite their intimate knowledge of the patient care environment, nurses have not always been integral to the design of health facilities. But more and more, health care organizations, design firms and nursing groups are recognizing the value nurses can bring to facility design. While nurses feel the health care field has far to go to ensure that all nursing professionals are allowed to contribute meaningfully to the design of facilities, many nurses are helping to create — and even leading the design of — innovative health care spaces.

This input often ensures that nurses’ workflow processes are not interrupted and helps to avoid significant additional project costs. In one hospital project, designers planned to place sinks in a location that would have required caregivers to have their backs to the patient while performing hand hygiene, an action correlated with lower patient satisfaction scores. But because input was provided early in the process, additional costs were avoided. In another case, nursing staff input led to a reduction in departmental size that contributed to more than $1 million in cost savings.

Read the full story in our sister publication, Health Facilities Management.