Mercy Medical Center North Iowa Emergency Department

Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa Emergency Department



It takes a team

LocationMason City, Iowa

At Mercy Medical Center, problem-solving is the responsibility of the entire organization. Using the Lean 3P model, Mercy depends on its employees to continuously improve operations and deliver increasingly efficient patient care.

So when Mercy decided to replace their outdated, inefficient emergency department, they relied on input from all of the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who work there. They also invited a mortician and the mayor of Mason City, just for good measure.

All of them met in an empty warehouse and, guided by Flad Architects, they began to assess the hospital's emergency care needs. To imagine the ideal placement for supplies, gurneys, and equipment. To decide how wide the hallways and doorways should be. To best configure the admissions area and the waiting room. Then they built full size mock-ups out of cardboard and duct tape to test out their designs.

Eighteen months later, when the walls for the new emergency department were up, the finished space looked exactly like the cardboard model the team had created. And so far, the staff has found very little they would change or improve.


Using a Lean exercise known as 3P (people, preparation, process), life-size mock-ups of key spaces were designed and constructed of cardboard and other simple materials to simulate patient, physician, and staff experiences and real-life scenarios. The mock-ups helped ensure that all design options were considered for the new ED to run efficiently.

Mark TrotterAIA, PrincipalFlad Architects


I had been through some ER renovations before, but nothing like this. It just wowed me. I know this is all Lean methodology and 3P process, but it is really about the people.

Patti PetersonDirector of Emergency Services

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