A $500,000 renovation of Grays Harbor Community Hospital’s lobby is serving the purpose of figuring out a better way to funnel people to where they need to go, while also improving the overall hospital experience as soon as a patient walks in the door.
“During our fundraising we were calling this the ‘Warm Welcome’ campaign because that’s exactly the way we want people to feel,” hospital spokesman David Quigg said.
From start to finish, it took about 11 months to complete the lobby project. Construction time took about three months and opened back up in February.
From the exterior, hospital visitors probably won’t notice any changes. Quigg says there was just some lighting improvements. On the inside, however, the lobby opens up, removing barriers and walls and giving it a “grander, more inviting feel,” said Chief Operations Officer Larry Kahl.
“We’re thrilled with how it turned out,” Kahl said. “It really accomplished a more grander space because we really couldn’t go up anymore. An atrium with a big fireplace would have been wonderful. But that’s just not possible.”
“We count 200 people an hour that come through this lobby,” Kahl said. “We thought, ‘holy cow, that’s a lot of traffic.’ We have patients, staff, doctors, vendors, coming in and out so we decided to identify the process of increasing the speed it gets people to get through the lobby. How can we make it better to get from point A to point B?”
One of the biggest changes patients will notice is at the registration desk. Kahl said typical registration time was about 10 minutes for a patient. They’ve cut it down to three minutes by just improving procedures, ensuring proper staff training and ensuring patients are taken care of as they wait.
The first friendly face seen by most at the hospital is a volunteer. Lyle Adkins has a spot right by the door where he serves as both a greeter and someone to make sure the public can find where they need to go.
“I like people,” Adkins said. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years. I come five days a week, six hours a day. My favorite thing is the people. I like smiles — and I like giving them. I’ve lived on the Harbor for 32 years. I’ve been a patient several times, myself, and I like the doctors, the nurses, the administration. They’re a wonderful bunch of eggs here.”
Quigg said the hospital has about two dozen volunteers doing everything from manning the information desk to delivering newspapers and flowers.
The hospital renovation, itself, was also partially paid for by donations. Quigg said an estimated $125,000 of the half million dollar project came from employee donations, the public and the Grays Harbor Community Hospital Foundation.
“We had an auxiliary goup that donated almost $30,000 and that was one bake sale at a time,” Quigg said. “There was a lot of employee buy in. There’s one thing to get the space cleaned up, but employees helped pay for that.”
“We know that first impressions are important and we want our customers to have a warm welcome into our Community Hospital,” CEO Tom Jensen said in a press release. “We offer state-of-the-art care, and a newly renovated Lobby will reflect an atmosphere of excellence that will carry throughout the entire visit. Customers will notice an updated décor as well as additional privacy.”
The lobby features more of a “brown, soothing color,” Kahl said.
“We were skeptical at first because the hospital doesn’t have a lot of color, but our architects the Blue Room group out of Spokane has a lot of experience with hospitals and recommended it. I think it turned out great.”
Inside the lobby, the area is split up into three areas, with special glass privacy screens painted with “wetland-ish reeds” separating the areas. One spot is a waiting area for those in Imaging. Another area is a general waiting area and a third spot is for medical tests, where people come in and out typically in 10 minutes.
The registration area was also changed to allow more patient privacy. The registrars can see each other, but separate patients no longer can.
“There are people dealing with real sensitive issues so that is one of the things we wanted to change,” Quigg said.
Besides the lobby areas, the hospital also removed the carpet in the hallways on the first floor and gave it a general sprucing up with new paint, as well. Gone is the spot where the tile met the carpeting.
“There was a small bump between the carpet and the time in the hallways and I noticed when nurses pushed the beds they would always slow down,” Quigg said.
“It didn’t matter how small it was, but it felt like a three-foot speed bump,” Kahl added. “For people in pain, just the tiniest threshold was so uncomfortable for them. Just taking it out is so much better.”
The hospital plans to contract out services for its gift shop in the coming weeks. Kahl said the hospital had been running it but wants someone else to do a better job at it. A coffee stand inside the hospital will also re-open soon, Quigg said.
“A lot of our employees are missing their latte fix so that will be a welcome addition,” Quigg said.