Calm & Comfortable

New Infusion Bays Offer a Healing Environment


Bright and comfortable infusion bays help enhance the patient experience, say Bea Castro, R.N., (left) and Louise Henry, R.N.

It’s warm and welcoming, congenial and comfortable. And that’s as it should be. NorthBay Cancer Center’s infusion room was designed from floor to ceiling to be a bright, accommodating place. Cancer patients need such an environment to help tone down any anxiety or discomfort they might feel as they undergo chemotherapy treatments, according to Louise Henry, R.N., clinical practice manager for medical oncology.

“It’s already a difficult time for them,” Louise explained, “because chemotherapy frequently requires patients to spend several hours in an infusion chair while they receive their IV treatments.”

Depending on the individual patient’s treatment regimen, the process can start with a blood draw, possibly a few hours of IV fluids for hydration, followed by several hours of chemotherapy, and another couple of hours of IV fluids to flush the kidneys well, Louise explains. Others might spend most of the day receiving a blood transfusion.

The process can start with a blood draw, possibly a few hours of IV fluids for hydration, followed by several hours of chemotherapy, and another couple of hours of IV fluids to flush the kidneys well.

Early in the building’s design process, Louise and her co-workers were able to offer suggestions to enhance the patient experience. They also traveled to other cancer centers in the area to see how they were designed and what they offered their patients. “The architects and designers definitely sought out our input,” Louise said.

First off, the medical oncology team suggested that the infusion room be located on the side of the building closest to the parking lot, so that patients wouldn’t have so far to walk. “Sometimes it takes all their energy just to get here,” Louise explained.

Request filled.

“We also wanted a soothing, calm place. We knew patients would want to be able to stretch out. They would want some measure of privacy, but not so much that they feel isolated or unable to socialize with their nurses or other patients.”

The architects and designers delivered there, too, noted Bea Castro, R.N., practice manager for medical oncology.

Floor-to-ceiling windows in each of the 14 semi-private infusion bays allow plenty of light to filter into the space. Each bay is equipped with a recliner outfitted with a television. A comfortable chair is reserved for guests, and a special chair for nurses that can be elevated as high as three feet off the ground, so they can be eye-to-eye with their reclining patients.

The bays have half walls topped with a pane of etched glass high enough to provide privacy, but not so high that patients can’t see their nurses or other patients to strike up a conversation, if they desire.

Plugs can accommodate i-Pads or other devices, the room is Wi-Fi friendly and patients can control how bright they want overhead lighting to be in their space.

The facility is also equipped with two large, enclosed infusion rooms that can accommodate a hospital bed and offers complete privacy. “We also have two ‘fast-track’ infusion areas for patients who are there for short visits, for such things as having a port flushed or an injection,” said Louise.

The nurses’ work stations are located just steps from the infusion bays, helping to cut down on their steps and increase efficiency.

Efficiency and patient comfort is also enhanced by the location of a state-of-the-art pharmacy. (See sidebar story.) “It’s just down the hall,” Louise explains.

“Before, we would have to call the pharmacy at the hospital to order our chemotherapy drugs and wait for them to be delivered. Now, they can be mixed soon after the patient arrives and delivered quickly, cutting down on waiting time for the patient.

“It’s already a trying time for the patients; we are hopeful our bright and comfortable atmosphere makes a difficult time a bit easier.”

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