1. Fay, Lindsey MSArch
  2. Real, Kevin PhD
  3. Haynes, Shannon MSN, BSW, RN, CNML
  4. Daneshvar, Zahra MArch


Background: There is growing awareness of the relationship between physical work environments and efficiency. Two conflicting factors shape efficiency in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) environment: the move to single-family rooms (SFRs) and increased demand for care, requiring growth in unit size.


Purpose: The goal of this research was to understand the impact of SFR NICUs on efficiency factors such as unit design, visibility and proximity, staff time, and workspace usage by various health professionals.


Methods: A pre-/postoccupancy evaluation assessed a NICU moving from an open-bay to an SFR unit composed of 6 neighborhoods. A NICU patient care manager and researchers in design and communication implemented a multimethodological design using staff surveys, observations, and focus groups.


Results: Outcomes revealed SFR NICUs contribute to increased efficiency and overall satisfaction with design. Outside of staff time spent in patient rooms, decentralized nurse stations were the most frequented location for staff work, followed by huddle stations, medication and supply rooms, and corridors. Work at the observed locations was largely performed independently. Survey outcomes reported increased feelings of isolation, but focus groups revealed mixed opinions regarding these concerns.


Implications for Practice and Research: Design solutions found to enhance efficiency include a neighborhood unit design, standardized access to medications and supplies, and proximity of supplies, patient rooms, and nurse workstations. Although feelings of isolation were reported and most staff work was done independently in the patient room, the SFR unit might not be the culprit when considered alongside staff's desire to be closer to the patient room.