Erica Mitchell

Recent Posts

The Public Health System and Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | June 27 2022

In Washington, a panel is meeting to discuss the future of the US Public Health System. Public health systems came under increased scrutiny during the COVID pandemic, spurring the panel to convene and  determine ways to make the system more efficient and effective. This is no simple task. The public health system is a network of public, private, and voluntary agencies whose shared goal of community well-being belie the complicated structure and organization behind them. In today's post, we'll take a closer look at the goals of public health, the entities that make up the public health system, and the way they intersect with hospital infection control.
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5 Design Updates to Make Sinks Safer

by Erica Mitchell | June 22 2022

Our efforts to reduce hospital acquired infections (HAIs) may have hit a challenging conundrum. On the one hand, we know that handwashing is essential to break the chain of transmission from infected (or colonized) host to vulnerable patient. On the other hand, one of the key tools in facilitating handwashing has recently demonstrated to play a role in transmitting pathogens. That tool? The sink. Many think sinks are beginning to tip the balance toward doing more harm than good.

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What is "Easy to Clean"?

by Erica Mitchell | June 15 2022

Read any hospital design article or walk the floors of any healthcare trade show and you will see these three words: "Easy to Clean." With the growing awareness of the role of the environment in infection control, it's no surprise that furniture and equipment designers are looking to make their products easy to clean. What what does that really mean? Today, we take a look at some ways furniture and related products are designed to be "easy to clean." (We'll look at medical devices and equipment in a future post.)

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Anatomy of a Truly Safe Hospital Bed

by Erica Mitchell | June 13 2022

Today's hospital beds are a product of 1800s innovation, steadily improving with each decade's advancements in health care, engineering, and technology. Patient beds today not only provide a place for rest and recuperation, they can actually improve patient outcomes and prevent medical complications. In today's post, we'll look at some of those improvements and suggest directions for the future.

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Healthcare Buildings that Do No Harm

by Erica Mitchell | June 8 2022

Physicians and other healthcare workers take an oath - whether literally or simply by taking up a profession in medicine - to "first, do no harm" to their patients. It's just taken for granted that anyone entrusted with the health of another individual has the overarching duty to not do additional harm to a patient. But what about the professionals responsible for building the spaces where these patients receive care? What are some steps they can take to ensure that the buildings they design "first, do no harm?" In today's post, we'll explore some key design choices that can make healthcare facilities healthier places to heal.

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Hospitals and Evidence-Based Design Part 3: Today's New Hospitals

by Erica Mitchell | June 1 2022

Evidence-based design became a focus of study in the 1980s. This movement paired design choices with structured, formal scientific research. Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence of design choices, researchers systematically tracked data on patient outcomes. One study, for example, was able to demonstrate a reduction in the use of pain medications by patients in rooms with a view towards nature. 

Evidence-based design can focus on various aspects of hospital function. Decisions about design are influenced by what we know about human psychology and stress, medical treatments, infection control, financial considerations, efficiency, and human movement/traffic flow. Ultimately, the goal of evidence-based design is to improve patient outcomes, safety, and administration.

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How Architecture Standards Align with Infection Control: Part 2

by Erica Mitchell | May 30 2022

In last week's post, we explored the overlap between architectural principles in the AIA's Framework for Design Excellence. Today, we will look at the foundational components of architectural design and how they overlap with designing with infection control in mind.

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Hospitals and Evidence-Based Design Part 2: The Revolutionary 100 Years

by Erica Mitchell | May 25 2022

After thousands of years of medical care provided in homes and religious buildings, health care moved into the public sphere. Buildings were constructed solely for medical purposes, with patient quarters, staff facilities, and specialized equipment. However, no other era saw as much transformation in healthcare as the years between Florence Nightengale in the 1840s and the golden age of antibiotics in the 1940s. Today's post will examine the transformation of hospital spaces during this time period.

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How Architecture Standards Align with Infection Control: Part 1

by Erica Mitchell | May 23 2022

Each year, thousands of buildings, including many healthcare facilities, are entered into architecture award programs, hoping to be recognized as the best the field has to offer. These entries are judged according to the accepted standards of modern architecture, which go beyond simple form and function. Healthcare facilities must not only meet these architectural standards, but dozens of regulatory standards along with many unique constraints in order to meet the needs of their target populations. In today's post, we'll look at how healthcare architects who include infection prevention in their planning help their projects align with the highest standards of their industry.

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Hospitals and Evidence-Based Design Part 1: Early History

by Erica Mitchell | May 18 2022

With life, there is illness. Some of the earliest examples of life on Earth, bacteria, show evidence of invasion by viruses. Our earliest recorded history includes written accounts of individuals trying to make sense of illness and injury. These early records, and the experiments and efforts that accompanied them, are the first examples of the scientific method which resulted in all our modern advances, including evidence-based design.

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