New OR waiting rooms bring families to the forefront

News / General
By Matthew Manor

Patients who come to Kingston General Hospital for surgery are now spending more time with their families before they go in for their operation. A new patient-centred initiative has created two large OR waiting rooms within the Same Day Admission Centre that allows patients and their families to wait together. In the past, patients would go to a holding area for ten or fifteen minutes before their operation.

"The holding area was small, far from the waiting areas, and didn't allow for a lot of confidentiality," says Clinical Educator Laurie Thomas. "Sometimes we had a few patients waiting for different surgeries, and it was a challenge to speak with them privately. And because the space was so small, even if we wanted to let families come to the holding area, we weren't always able to." But the new waiting rooms have changed the whole process and made the experience much more comfortable for everyone. "Even though stays in the holding area were short, they had a real impact when family members are always counting down the minutes," she says. "They could be left wondering why a one-hour surgery was taking longer than expected, and they'd worry. But the reality was that their family member had gone in to surgery 15 minutes after leaving the admission centre for the holding area." So the system has now been centralized, and families are now with patients for final updates before their operations. "The worst part for families is not knowing how things are going," says Teresa Fitzpatrick, Registered Nurse for Same Day Admission. "Now, they have a better sense of how long things should take, and when they actually get started." And the new system is also making it easier for staff in the admission centre and the OR rooms. "We had a handful of places where patients could be before this change, and you really had to keep track of where each person was along the chain," says Fitzpatrick. "But now you are either in the admission centre waiting with your family, or on a stretcher heading to your operation." It's an evolution that has simplified and streamlined the experience for OR patients. Fitzpatrick says she sees more patient and family-focused changes on the horizon. "Our next idea is to have some sort of messaging service so families can leave the waiting room for a snack or coffee, and get paged immediately with updates."