The Offenburg, Germany-based manufacturer of cleaning and disinfection appliances, MEIKO GmbH, has delivered the longest combined care unit in the company's history. The utility room for the 26-bed neuro-orthopaedics and spinal cord injuries unit at the Orthopaedic Clinic Markgröningen (abbreviated in German to OKM) has been equipped with two cleaning and disinfection appliances, two slop sinks, two standard sinks, and plenty of work surfaces and cupboard units. The combined care unit has a total length of 9.8 metres. MEIKO also included the customer in its own in-house continuous improvement process, implementing feedback from nursing staff after installing the combined care unit in order to optimize the ergonomics and health and safety aspects.
The OKM is a highly regarded clinical centre. Its endoprosthetics and general orthopaedic rheumatology department is ranked second in the list of recommended hospitals published by Germany's Focus magazine, on a par with the Charité – Universitätsmedizin hospital in Berlin. The patients it treats, especially in this unit, are largely immobile and often in a serious condition. "Many of our patients require the use of bedpans or urine bottles," says nursing services director Manuela Lehrach, explaining that the care personnel in the unit spend significant amounts of time disposing of patient excreta. So when it comes to carrying full bedpans or urine bottles along the corridors, every meter counts. This point is also a key consideration for the hospital engineering experts. Jörg Kunz is responsible for this issue throughout the Ludwigsburg-based RKH holding company which includes the OKM: "The regard shown for people who work in nursing care is shown in the details," says Kunz, who is just as interested in the distances staff members have to cover and their safety at work as he is in the issue of hygiene: "If people have to transport care utensils over long distances they are more likely to trip and spill something, which can lead to unnecessary hazards for other patients and staff members," says Kunz.
In a meeting of the hospital engineering, infection control and nursing service teams, the decision was therefore taken to create a utility room that would be accessible from two sides in order to significantly cut the distances ward staff have to cover. "We also gathered feedback from care personnel," adds Norbert Scholtissek, who is responsible for hospital engineering in Markgröningen. This included showing possible solutions to nurses and staff within the holding company. This ultimately led to the decision to create a large utility room with plenty of surfaces and storage space and a double contingent of all the technical equipment. In addition, the ward also includes five bedrooms with patient-specific bedpan washer solutions: "That really enables you to achieve perfect isolation," says Manuela Lehrach, noting that the hospital also follows strict guidelines for MRSA screening.
But it's not just the sheer scale of the MEIKO project in Markgröningen that makes it stand out from the crowd. As Markus Braun – the head of sales and marketing in MEIKO's medical technology division – explains, "this is yet another example of how we work closely with customers to incorporate their ideas and requirements." The canister containing the cleaning chemicals was originally