Princeton Hospital CEO Named to National Board


The head of Princeton HealthCare System has been appointed to a national nonprofit that promotes improving hospital building design as a way to enhance patient care.

Princeton HealthCare announced today that President and CEO Barry Rabner has been appointed to the board of directors of the California-based Center for Health Design.

“UMCPP has already contributed greatly to the industry’s growing body of knowledge in its interim studies about how the built environment impacts health, organizational and economic outcomes,” said Rosalyn Cama, chair of The Center for Health Design’s board.

The new 636,000-square-foot University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, scheduled to open in May, will include numerous innovative design features inside and out.

The hospital will be heated, cooled and powered by a cogeneration plant being developed in partnership with NRG Energy Inc. of Princeton. The cogeneration plant operates more efficiently than traditional power plants and runs on clean-burning natural gas.

The glass façade of the hospital has been engineered to maximize natural light year-round but minimize the heat from direct sunlight in the summer, and the campus will use indigenous landscaping to eliminate the need for pesticides, fertilizers and irrigation.

Inside, hospital rooms will incorporate various design features to improve patient care such as railings leading to bathrooms, prominent sinks that encourage hand washing by heathcare professionals, and a other touches such as a visitor area with a work station and wireless computer access.

“From the energy efficiencies to the infection controls to the layout of each room, we integrated research into every aspect of the new hospital,” Rabner said. “We reviewed 1,200 research studies in designing the project. Our goal is to create an environment where we can provide outstanding care.”

All patient areas will be served by 100 percent fresh air from the outside, helping to prevent the spread of infection, and all 231 rooms will be single-patient rooms, which also helps infection control and improves the patient experience. Other patient-friendly features include a healing garden built alongside the hospital and the natural light and nature views available from each patient room.

Rooms at the new hospital will mirror the design of “The Hospital Room of the Future,” a working model room that opened more than a year ago at the current University Medical Center at Princeton.

The model room at the existing hospital in downtown Princeton is the subject of ongoing research as part of “The Pebble Project”, an extensive research initiative administered by The Center for Health Design that is intended to help healthcare facilities improve quality of care, attract patients, recruit and retain staff, increase community support; and enhance operational efficiency and productivity.

Princeton HealthCare is in the midst of  a one-year study that tracks to what extent the various features of its new room design lower rates of infection and patient falls and improve the hospital experience for patients.The evidence-based study will be one of the first of its kind.

Supported by a $2.8 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the ongoing research enables PHCS to gather and analyze data on medication usage, causes and prevention of incidents such as falls or hospital-acquired conditions, and patient satisfaction surveys.

Staff members are surveyed quarterly, providing feedback on every aspect of the room’s design. Patients who stay in the room are asked for feedback as well. Several hundred changes have already been made as a result of feedback from physicians, employees and patients, hospital officials said.

The goal of the research is to create a room that is as safe and comfortable as possible for the patient, while providing a positive and efficient work environment for physicians and staff. Once the room design is refined, it will be used to build the 231 patient rooms at the new hospital.

PHCS has committed to sharing the results of the research with other institutions so that patients across the country and the world can benefit. Mr. Rabner has spoken extensively about the project at conferences, including a gathering of hospital CEOs in China and a recent Center for Health Design Conference in British Columbia.

For more on the Princeton room design study, read our recent story in Oncology and Biotech News.