Noisy Hospitals

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

When we're sick, sleep is incredibly important to helping our bodies recover. But a new study by the Mayo Clinic shows hospital noises at night can get almost as loud as a chainsaw. One local hospital is working to cut down on nighttime sounds.
A hospital never sleeps. People walk the halls all night long. They're helping promote the business of healing, but sometimes it's hard for patients to get the necessary shut-eye.
Bill Mewes is a registered nurse and the manager of the 3rd floor of the Heart Hospital. He says, "Patients a lot of times complain about the amount of noise at night and there's a lot of frequent interruptions just as part of their care."
Nurses monitor their patients during the night and wake them to give them medications.
In fact, Mewes says, "The strange thing is that we're going to interrupt you more the sicker you are, so with that in mind, you really do have to create an environment that's going to allow for rest."
That's just what designers of Swedish American Hospital's new heart unit had in mind. Most hospital hallways are a straight shot, that adds to noise because it's easier for sound to bounce around. But at the heart hospital, from the angled hallways to the acoustic ceiling tiles, it's all about cutting down on noise.
Bob Tudor, a heart patient at Swedish American says, "I've noticed you hear a lot of noise going up and down the halls either pushing a cart or running something, which you don't have here. Also there's a lot of traffic in those other halls compared to this."
Swedish American is trying to spread quiet throughout the rest of the hospital.
Says Mewes, "We're trying to move towards an all-private bed facility. Private rooms is probably the 1st and foremost decrease in the amount of sound, if you're the only person in the room."
The goal is to create a soothing environment to get patients feeling better faster.
Tudor says it's working: "I'm very pleased to be here, though I don't like hospital food necessarily."
One step at a time.
Swedish American's heart hospital opened in April of this year.


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