Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Officially, Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy is a "patient-centered" hospital.

After a three-year effort, the 95-year-old hospital in the Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte has become the first hospital in North Carolina to receive the designation as a Planetree hospital.

The Planetree model was created in 1978 by a San Francisco patient who had a traumatic hospital stay. Hospitals with the Planetree designation focus on ways to humanize and demystify the health-care experience by using integrative therapies and visual and performing arts to enhance the healing environment.

Last year, Carolinas HealthCare System completed a $96 million renovation at CMC-Mercy that included a new two-story lobby and the addition of an adjacent five-floor office building. The lobby features an 11-foot bronze fig tree. Original art adorns every public space, and a grand piano in the mezzanine is available to anyone who wishes to play.

As part of patient-centered care, visitors are allowed at any hour, even in intensive care units. Patients are offered massage, music therapy, aromatherapy and pet visitation. Employees invite patients’ families and caregivers to become “care partners” who assist with small personal tasks, such as bathing loved ones, or more significant ones, such as discussions with doctors and nurses about diagnoses and treatment options.

“We believe that dialogue and the exchange of information with the care team empowers patients,” said Dr. Dael Waxman, medical director of patient-centered programming at CMC-Mercy. “It allows patients to become active participants in making healthcare decisions.”