To bring a hospital up to Propst’s standards, Co/Struc needed to solve six key problem areas—sanitation, obsolescence and failure, customized service, transport and supply, human use, and appearance—then apply his nine universal criteria to create the kind of system that healthcare facilities could benefit from.
Starting with sanitation, traditional materials used for furniture (and the way in which they were put together) made most existing furniture—such as a wood bed frame—difficult, if not impossible, to sanitize using “reasonable and routine procedures.” Co/Struc is separable, seamless, cornerless, and drainable. All surfaces, as well as individual components that can be lifted and hung on the wall are made accessible for cleaning. Waste collection frames and carts were even made washable. “As nurses, we were ecstatic,” reports Janet Ziegler, an RN, MN, MBA, EDAC, and retired nurse leader. “Easy to clean, organize, move …Wow!”
At its essence, every element of Co/Struc is user-friendly and doesn’t require extensive training to reconfigure—which comes into play quite often considering that every patient, clinician, and clinical department has different needs. Built-in, one-size-fits-all equipment is inherently inflexible. Co/Struc solves that problem with its intrinsic adaptability: Components can be reconfigured and readjusted to meet a variety of needs. For example, the rails are height-adjustable and can be mounted to walls. Likewise, carts provide a place for mobile hangers.
“This product can go anywhere in a hospital,” explains Jim Wright, Herman Miller’s now-retired healthcare sales manager. “If somebody didn't need storage in an operating room, that same component could go downstairs and be used in the emergency department. [It didn’t require] a lot of money to make changes.” Co/Struc eventually made its way into laboratories, pharmacies, and administrative offices too.