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UT unveils hospital room of the future

By Vincent J. Curkov
On November 15, 2010

An old man wanders out of his hospital room late at night, wheeling his IV bag around with him, wearing nothing but a hospital gown and exposing his rear end to the other hospital patrons.

This a common stereotypical joke involving the revealing nature of hospital gowns. But the University of Toledo Medical Center is breaking it by revamping their look with new patient gowns, uniforms and a room redesign.

The new gowns are designed with a more "conservative look" and go along with the UTMC's goal to increase patient comfort and privacy, according to a press release from the university.

The new gowns look very similar to graduation gowns, except they have snaps down the front and from the collar to the end of the sleeve. The gowns have also been designed to match UT's colors and are mostly blue with yellow stripes along the buttons.

Old patient gowns were tied in the back and were designed to give the physician easy access, said Interim Executive Director of UTMC Scott Scarborough, but as a result they were less than private.

There has never been a standard scrub color, according to Scarborough, but now all of the hospital staff must wear UT's blue and gold. The new uniform is already hospital-wide.

"The whole idea is to modernize the hospital," Scarborough said.

The new "suite style" patient rooms are the largest change at the UTMC, designed with a new aesthetic that goes against the normal sterile hospital look.

The room has a lot of earth tones on both the wall and the sleeper sofa.

"Healing is not just about the biological," Scarborough said.

"We will turn the double bed rooms into single bed rooms," Scarborough said.

However, the hospital will not lose any beds because more patient rooms are being added in other parts of the hospital.

The new rooms also come with several high-tech amenities such as Internet access, iTunes, and a digital picture frame.

"The idea was that we would take a flash drive and put their own family pictures up," Scarborough said.

The demonstration room also includes a restroom that resembles a spa and patient beds that help monitor patients who are at risk of falling out of the bed.

The "demo" room built in the stroke unit on the fifth floor cost UTMC $75,000, Scarborough said, but the cost per room will come down when they are mass-produced.

Fortunately, these renovations are not going to increase the cost of a hospital stay.

"Medicare is not going to pay us because we have prettier rooms," said Charton Budd, an UTMC systems analyst.

UTMC is already starting to create rooms like this on the third floor in their new addition, but will need the Board of Trustees to provide more money to make the changes hospital wide.

The changes to the rooms and patient gowns will only go into effect in minor ways until UTMC goes to the BOT to request $35 million to help with the renovations.

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