Big Data, e-health, telemedicine: whereas most congresses and debates seem to be focusing on the digitalisation of the health service, many hospitals in Germany appear to be investing available funds in building refurbishments or in new premises. This is indeed the case at the Ortenau Hospital in Lahr, which invested around 21 million euros in new premises for high-quality patient care.
Every year, German hospitals need to invest around six billion euros in maintaining their buildings and equipment. This figure stems from an analysis conducted by the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV-Spitzenverband), the German Association of Private Health Insurers (Verband der Privaten Krankenversicherung) and the German Hospital Federation (DKG) in 2019. Let us begin with the rooms for inpatients. One or two-bed rooms are considered standard nowadays. However, this is not yet the case in every German hospital.
Until the new wing was opened in January 2018, there were still, for example, tree-bed rooms in use at the Ortenau Hospital Lahr-Ettenheim. These were in a building dating back to 1952, which no longer met current requirements. Back then, far fewer than 10,000 people were treated as inpatients. Nowadays, it is one of the most efficient hospitals in the region with 486 beds. About 50,000 patients are treated here every year, either as inpatients or outpatients, and around 1,300 staff provide medical care. An investment of 21 million euros in the new wing was necessary, in order to meet the demand for high-quality patient care in the long term. The result is a modern, attractive new building that will guarantee patient care in the Ortenau Klinikum Lahr hospital in the future.
The wing has been built between the current south wing and the hospital’s main building. There are three wards with 32 beds and one ward with 34 beds on the four upper floors. These, in turn, are divided into singles and two-bed rooms with contemporary furnishings. Treatment rooms as well as technical rooms and facilities are located on the ground floor.
A total of 73 patient rooms are now available in this new wing. 16 of these are superior rooms, which are very popular among the patients. They differ in their furnishings mainly by offering fully upholstered chairs and armchairs as well as attractive photo wallpaper and curtains. All patient rooms have their own wet room. Compared to the building dating back to 1952, the new wing offers rooms which are modern and furnished in a contemporary style. It also means that the wards can be enlarged and optimised over time. During the design stage, focus was put on a functional room concept, in which as many rooms as possible benefited from sufficient light and a pleasant view from the windows. In keeping with this, the hospital management opted for subtle tones and the use of warm shades with red accents on the doors.
One area that is usually only taken into consideration late in the construction process is that of the textile furnishings, even though fabrics are an integral part of the ‘healing architecture’. Modern-day scientists agree that environment has a positive impact on the healing process. The construction and furnishings can help to reduce stress and speed up recovery. While curtains and drapes are slowly coming back into fashion in private households, they have never disappeared in public buildings. Textiles regulate the transmission of light and ensure the best acoustics, provide a visual shield and offer patients and staff privacy.
The hospital opted for three items from drapilux, the Emsdetten-based manufacturer of textiles, one of the leading suppliers of flame-retardant curtains and decorative fabrics. The fabrics can also be equipped with intelligent additional functions. Thus drapilux 769 has the air-purifying function drapilux air, which ensures fresh room air at all times. Metal salts integrated into the textiles convert odour molecules into water and carbon dioxide, thus continually reducing bad smells. The fabric retains this function in the long term, even after numerous wash cycles. This is particularly important for clinics and hospitals, as the textiles are cleaned frequently to comply with hygiene regulations. This fabric was created as an individual print with the drapilux 132 motif, a floral pattern similar to a rose, in special colours. The textile manufacturer has the technical expertise to respond to individual printing requests. The design studio provides advice on the choice of fabric, motif and colour. The latter, in particular, can provide a more pleasant atmosphere in a clean hospital environment, as the cherry red on the door frames and curtains in the hospital in Ortenau demonstrates. Furthermore, drapilux 749 27, a fabric in white without any pattern, was used in the doctors' rooms. drapilux 103, a colourful woven fabric with stripes in beige and white, was used on the ground floor. Its semi-transparency and timeless design lends a certain lightness to the patient rooms.
During the fabric selection process, the hospital management was advised directly on site by the drapilux team. “Interior designers and interior decorators were not required,” stated Katharina Kirner, assistant to the administrative director of the hospital in Ortenau. “When we decided on the brand, the most important thing for us was that the textiles meet safety regulations such as fire protection and the prescribed hygiene requirements. drapilux was the right partner for us.” In contrast to pleated blinds, curtains and nets can be cleaned in the laundry and are then hygienically clean again. “This is a crucial procedure that we cannot do without in our medical facility, especially with patients with highly infectious illnesses,” said Katharina Kirner.
The interplay of modern, attractive textile designs with innovative additional functions are proof that a higher degree of safety and optimal room hygiene have been successfully and purposefully implemented in the Ortenau hospital. "There has been an exceedingly positive reaction from the staff as well as patients to the entire interior and the new colour concept”, Katharina Kirner continued, visibly delighted. The relaxed and homely atmosphere, which the rooms in the new wing radiate by means of the discreet, minimalist designs and muted curtain colours, also has an impact on the patient’s well-being.