A recent project completed for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District built on our experience in designing retrofitted hospital environments. The work at Wollongong Hospital involved converting a disused meeting room and waiting area off a main corridor to a staff shower and change room. What seemed like a straightforward project was made more complex as the new amenities were to be located within a dedicated COVID ward. A thorough understanding the movement of staff during shift changes as well as the layout of building services was critical to the success of the design.
The change rooms allowed staff arriving for their shift to store their personal items and clothing and ‘gown up’ for their shift – a process known in the hospital workplace as “donning scrubs”. The showers were intended to provide staff with a safe space within which to decontaminate at the end of their shift, including “doffing” their scrubs. Clean linen is then provided for staff to move back into the changing area via a one-way door. The separation of clean and dirty activities prevents the spread of contaminants to keep staff safe.
In partnership with Bluestone Building Group, and hospital staff from several different departments, Edmiston Jones designed the layout, including the selection of colours and materials, to blend seamlessly with the existing functions and aesthetics. The work was completed quickly and efficiently, with building services such as plumbing, lighting, fire safety and ventilation modified with minimal disruption to hospital activities.
Our experience with complex stakeholder groups, knowledge of industry codes, and a collaborative approach, facilitated a smooth and speedy transition to a safe working environment for hospital staff.