Corridor Alcoves

In regards to corridor clutter, one of the most frequent comments safety professionals hear from nurses and other point-of-care workers, is “I have no place to put the ____” and you can fill in the blank with just about anything. The sad thing is, this is true more often than not. Nurses like to have ‘things’ close by and near their patients, for quick access, and it’s not their fault there simply isn’t suitable space to store them.

Now, I can imagine some of you may be saying, “But Brad, those nurses keep leaving things in the corridor even after I’ve told them that they can’t do that”, which may very well be true. But you have to ask yourself, ‘Why are they doing that?’ Why do nurses want ‘stuff’ in the corridor even when they’ve been told not to? Before I can even get that last sentence out, I know some will say it’s because the nurses are lazy and they don’t want to walk the extra 30 – 50 feet to the storage room. Well, that may be true, but you may be surprised how often that is not the case.

Nurses are some of the best trained people in the hospital. If it weren’t for nurses, none of us would have a job in healthcare. The hospital exists to provide care for the patients and the nurses are the ones who do that the best. Nurses have the patient’s best interests at heart, and everything they do is geared towards providing excellent care for their patient. Many nurses believe by having certain medical equipment, such as blood pressure cuff machines, EKG machines, IV pumps, and the like, accessible and close by the patient’s room, they are providing the best care possible for the patient. In their minds, keeping those items in the storage room 30 – 50 feet down the corridor would only delay the ability to provide excellent care, so they need that stuff in the corridor, just outside the patient room.

Once the facility managers accept this concept, now they can begin thinking like the nurses, and try and find ways to help them have these items nearby. One solution is the creation of alcoves in the corridor, just like the one in the picture. Here’s how one hospital accomplished this…

First, they found a former patient room on the nursing unit that was being used to store items, including large items such as beds, patient lifts and extra mattresses. Inside this former patient room was a bathroom which was not used and only taking up valuable space. So, the facility manager decided to tear out the bathroom and pushed back the corridor wall that contained the entrance door to the room, about 5 feet. He rebuilt the wall separating the corridor from the storage room, which left him with a very nice alcove for the items that nurses used most often. By tearing out the bathroom, the hospital had to re-route plumbing and electric lines, and fix the floor, but the end result was very beneficial for the nurses. And this actually created more storage space since the unused bathroom was eliminated. Now the nurses can store equipment in the alcove, without having to open the door and place it in the storage room. This is a big advantage for those items that nurses want quick access to.

This ‘after-the-fact’ process of creating alcoves in the corridor is not cheap. The one in the picture cost around $15,000 or so, but if your administration is serious about solving corridor clutter in your organization, they should be able to provide the funds. I suggest you seriously consider this approach… It is a great satisfier for the nurses and you’ll make friends for the rest of your career.