New Hospital’s Top Ten

So — go! It’s your only chance to view the new operating rooms while you are standing vertical. Yes, there will be a mob at this Saturday’s open house for the new University Medical Center of Princeton. Yes, you will have to park on College Road and take a shuttle. From what I saw on a private tour for the Princeton chamber board a couple of weeks ago, it will be worth the effort.

The open house is Saturday, May 12, noon to 6. The hospital is just off Plainsboro Road on Route 1 North. Park at 600 College Road — east of Route 1 — and take the shuttle bus. Those who preregister (www.princetonhcs.org/openhouse) have a chance to win a flat screen TV.

I’m curious to know what you think of the grand, imposing entrance atrium (artist’s rendering shown). With ceilings several stories high, it’s on the scale of Philadelphia’s Penn Station. The entrance was empty when I visited, and maybe it will seem more welcoming with lots of people inside. In any case, the traffic planning works. Opposite the window wall is a line-up of portals — an entrance for cancer, an entrance for cardio vascular, an entrance to have tests done, etc. Once you find your portal, you don’t have to run around the hospital; everything you need is right there.

Another good feature: The research-based patient rooms, as at left. You’ll be hearing a lot about them, how they did mockups and studies and tweaks to make them more comfy, more healthy, and more efficient. For instance, virtually all the rooms are single and all are “same handed,” i.e. the plumbing fixtures don’t “back up” to each other. Such exactly alike rooms are supposed to promote accuracy. One wonders what it added to the cost.

So — here is my list of the Top Ten Things that the New Hospital Has Fixed

10. Restrooms in the Emergency Room. They’ve fixed a lot of things in ER, including replacing those flimsy curtains with floor to ceiling walls for privacy. Most important: the rest room inside the ER, versus me holding my gown closed as I snuck into the hallway hoping not to be seen. Better yet, the rooms for we old people (geriatric) have a toilet in each room.

9. Accurately targeted lights in the delivery rooms. The lights reflect against mirrors that the docs can adjust to shine a spotlight on just the right spot. It’ll be great for the videos – or for that difficult delivery.

8. Closets that open to the hall. No longer will laundry carts clog the hallway because sheets, towels etc. can be loaded into patient rooms at night. Staff can access these items from inside the patient room. Medications can be pre-loaded in a locked box. (You can see them in the patient room picture, just beyond the luxurious-looking elevated sink bowl.

7. Reading lights. When you are a family member attending a patient, you want to be able to read, but you don’t want the bright lights on. Now the family chair (there is also a pull-out sofa for overnights) has a reading light. These lights were so popular during the testing phase that the patients asked for them – and got them – as well.


6. A significantly beautiful chapel accessible to both visitors and staff. Before the chapel on the second floor was used mostly by staff. This one – donated by Blackrock’s Bob Doll and designed by Bob Hillier’s staff – evokes all religions but specifies none.

5. Designs to prevent blah fatigue. Each room has a large glass “picture” with some kind of abstract design. Easy to clean, easy to appreciate. The radiation machine has a lighted ceiling showing a design of cherry trees against the sky.

4. Uber efficient and clean operating rooms. The surgeon can take a biopsy and send it by pneumatic tube to the lab, then the pathologist can show the results to the surgeon on the big TV screen in case anything else needs to be done. Plus it’s super clean – air filtered twice and all but two items are off the floor or on wheels for easy cleaning.

3. Elevators only for visitors. No longer will you share an elevator with a gurney or a meal cart.

2. Ease of check in. No longer will you have to check in twice or three times and wait to be escorted to the next station. Enter the new building and you will see a giant curve with arcade entrances. Be greeted and get checked in at any one of the specialties – neuro, cancer, cardio, testing or whatever – and you will be taken care of right in that area.

1. Natural light everywhere. All the patient rooms have it. And when you are on a gurney, you aren’t looking up at fluorescent lights in the ceiling. Hallway lighting is vertical, as at left, emanating from slabs outside the patient rooms, so you can be comfortable when you are horizontal.

Don’t wait to check out the new hospital until the next emergency. See it standing up.

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4 thoughts on “New Hospital’s Top Ten

  1. I think the cold vastness of the interior atrium (as it is shown in photo) is the opposite of what the human psyche needs when ill, and to me it represents everything reprehensible in the modern world of heavily branded and marketed, for-profit medicine

  2. I am so happy natural light was factored in.Recently saw a documentary that scientifically proved that environment influences healing.I'll be there on Saturday. Can't wait to see.

  3. Maybe it's nice inside (I hope I never have to find out), but from the outside it is a huge, dark, imposing, glitteringly arrogant affair. I think the cold vastness of the interior atrium (as it is shown in photo) is the opposite of what the human psyche needs when ill, and to me it represents everything reprehensible in the modern world of heavily branded and marketed, for-profit medicine. I know it's no longer our little community hospital (no money to be made there!), but it seems a shame it had to be on this scale and built of these materials.

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