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Seattle Children’s Prepares for Hospital Expansion with Pacific Northwest-themed Directional Wayfinding System

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January 22, 2013

Sensory cues will help patients and families more easily navigate the hospital

Seattle Children’s today unveiled a new hospital-wide directional wayfinding system to simplify the way patients, families, staff and visitors navigate through the expanding campus. “Wayfinding” includes anything that helps people identify where they are and gets them to where they want to go – such as signage, maps, floor numbers, room numbers and design schemes. 

In April 2013, Children’s will add 330,000 square feet of space to the hospital’s campus with the opening of the Building Hope expansion for cancer, critical and emergency care. While Building Hope will increase the complexity of the hospital layout, the wayfinding system will make it easier to get from one location to another.

“Building Hope provided us with the perfect opportunity to update Seattle Children’s wayfinding system,” said Todd Johnson, wayfinding project lead and vice president of facilities at Seattle Children’s. “Its consistent themes and visual cues will streamline the way patients and staff move through the hospital, saving time and easing stress for visitors.”  

The wayfinding system was designed to intuitively and logically organize and divide space within the hospital. It consists of four new Pacific Northwest-themed zones: Forest, Mountain, Ocean and River. The Forest zone exclusively includes the new Building Hope location and will be accessible in April, while the other zones encompass the existing building. Artwork, including colorful murals and carved surfaces, correspond with zone themes and support a healing environment intended to calm anxieties and offer discovery, amusement and positive distractions.

Various aspects of the wayfinding system such as zone names, icons, signage and art, went through testing with patients, families and staff. Testing helped uncover which design themes would be most universally understandable and culturally acceptable by the various populations Children’s serves.

Children’s has been preparing for wayfinding changes for more than two years. During this time, hospital staff and emergency response teams took part in special simulation and training exercises to ensure they were well prepared for the changes and new structure. The final conversion steps took place over the weekend which included overnight updates made to 41 information systems such as Children’s electronic medical records system. Fire and elevator systems were also reprogrammed, and smaller changes were made to several other hospital systems.

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About Seattle Children's Hospital

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Children’s has been delivering superior patient care and advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org.

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