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Last updated:
22:07 22-Jul-2005

Copyright 1999-2005
Ian Jefferies
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Theme Hospital Clinic: Room usage

"There's a Patient leaving. The reason? Your poorly run and badly staffed and equipped hospital!"

Overview

Hop to it!

The hospital you have to build has to be very usable from the point of view of your patients and staff. This part of the Clinic gives you counselling on rooms so that you can design a better hospital. 

Some rooms clearly fulfil a single function, others play a more important role in the running of the hospital, acting as hubs about which patients flow. It is essential to understand their operation before you go about designing your level. 

The interaction between these rooms forms the basis for any successful hospital building strategy
 

  • Common features
  • GP's Office
  • Diagnosis rooms
  • Clinics
  • Pharmacy
  • Ward
  • Psychiatric room
  • Operating theatre
  • Research
  • Training
  • Staff room
  • Toilets
  • Waiting areas
  • Receptionists
  • Corridor items
  •  
     

    Common features

    The best a man can get...
    • a room runs better with higher skilled staff
    • grouping identical rooms can help
    • keep machines in good repair
    • reduce room usage by setting its queue size to zero
    • provide a place to sit
    • provide toilets
    • provide drinks machines
    • place plants in rooms

    The more skilful the staff person placed in a room then the more quickly that rooms' operation will be carried out. Consultants are quicker than doctors who are quicker than juniors. A more accurate judgement can be made by looking at the skill meter (a green bar between an abacus and computer on the panel opened when left clicking on the staff member). 

    Grouping several identical rooms together can make sense when the demand for those rooms is likely to be high. Patients like to walk the shortest distance possible and this can lead to the under use of a room. You can examine room usage by left clicking on its door and looking at the number of visitors. Usage can also be balanced by reducing the number of people that can queue before being redirected. 

    Rooms that use equipment to actively diagnose or cure patients also require repair. Placing the cursor over the machine shows the strength and number of times the machine has been used in the right hand side of the panel. Machines with a low strength need to be repaired more frequently. When a machine has been used to about half its strength then after repair it will have a lower strength. If the usage exceeds the strength then the machine explodes, killing everyone in the room and making that room unusable. The handymen will repair machines. 

    One room of several can be 'turned off' by reducing the queue size to zero. This can be useful if you don't have enough money to buy a replacement machine and it has either a low strength or is badly damaged. Patients still occasionally manage to find their way to these rooms, but the room will be used only when the other rooms of the same type have full queues - in other words it acts as a spare. You will also hear a PA announcement that the room needs a doctor. 

    Patients hate standing, so build areas where they can sit and wait for a room to become available. Toilet facilities will stop patients making a mess on the floor, and drinks machines stop them getting thirsty (but make them need the toilet even more...) Plants make a room a better working environment for your staff, so make sure you 'plant' a  plant in each. 

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    GP's Office

    Tell me where it hurts
    • patients usually use this room more than once
    • consider placing near a group of diagnosis rooms
    • it is better to place an efficient doctor in the room
    • place one or more near the receptionist to shorten time to first diagnosis
    • may require queue management and balancing
    • cure guessed from diagnosis percentage set on hospital policy page

    This is the first room that a patient is going to see. In here a doctor will talk to the patient for a while to see what symptoms they have. Based on this consult the patient will be dispatched to a diagnosis room for further analysis or, hopefully, onto a cure. 

    The skill of the doctor in this room determines how complete a diagnosis can be made on the patient on each sitting. After the patient has visited an external diagnosis room they return to a GP's office for further diagnosis. Understanding that this type of room can be visited more than once is a key part of designing hospitals. If the second consult hasn't completed the diagnosis then the patient will be sent out for more tests. A less skilful doctor will also take longer to conduct a diagnosis and this can make bottlenecks worse. 

    Consider using more than one GP's office in an area to ease bottlenecks. This is particularly important in the later levels when a single office can't cope with the flow of patients (usually from reception). If you have a bottleneck you can help balance the load by checking the rooms and forwarding the patient to another GP's office. Left click on the door to see the queue. Pick up the person you want to move and drag them into another GP's office. 

    The level at which a diagnosis is completed is set on the Hospital policy page. Too low and patients will die because the treatment was not correctly performed. Too high and patients will be sent out to several treatment rooms in search of the few extra percent points required to complete the diagnosis. 

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    Diagnosis rooms

    • diagnosis rooms can be used to direct patients to another part of the hospital
    • place a GP's office near a cluster of diagnosis rooms to reduce load elsewhere
    • keep diagnosis rooms in good repair

    When a patient has not been fully diagnosed at the GP's office then they are sent out to a more specialized diagnosis room. Each room has to be staffed by a doctor, with the exception of the ward which requires a nurse. Psychiatry requires a doctor with the appropriate qualification. 

    Once a patient has received their first diagnosis it is often worth moving them to another part of the hospital. This is easily done by placing several diagnosis rooms in different wings (plots) of the hospital. Study how frequently a particular diagnosis room is used and design your hospital appropriately. 

    Consider placing another GP's office near a cluster of diagnosis rooms. Patients do not clog up the area that is managing the patients from reception, and patients feel they are getting prompt service. 

    Most diagnosis rooms require repair by a handyman. the only 'free' rooms are general diagnosis, the ward and psychiatry. 

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    Clinics

    This won't hurt a bit...
    • cured patients leave the hospital immediately
    • emergency patients move directly to the appropriate clinic
    • know where the helipad for the arrival of emergency patients is
    • consider having more than one of each clinic to help balance load

    Once cured, a patient will move directly to the nearest exit. They will not use any of the facilities or burden the hospital in any other way. One side effect is that it is not necessary to place clinics very close to the hospital entrance(s). 

    The drawback is in handling an emergency: patients waste valuable time walking through the hospital to get to a cure. It is also difficult to manage these queues because a patient cannot be redirected until they have actually arrived at the clinic, and all the time the clock is ticking! You should know where the helipad is and factor it into your hospital design. 

    When handling emergencies it can also be beneficial to have more than one clinic of each type. You can either build them 'on demand' (in which case you should leave space for them) or have them already prepared. 
     
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    Pharmacy

    Hurry up and drink it!
    • all cures requiring potions are dispensed here
    • run by a nurse
    • consider placing two close together
    • consider placing near other rooms run by a nurse

    The pharmacy is the place where all potions are dispensed by a nurse. In an emergency (particularly on later levels) you will find that having more than one pharmacy will allow you to complete with time to spare. There are a great many diseases requiring a cure at the pharmacy, so the queue can get quite long at busy times. 

    There are times when a nurse needs to be summoned to another room, either to assist in diagnosis or to cure a patient. By keeping nurse operated rooms closer together you can reduce time spent walking between rooms. 

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    Ward

    Oooooh nurse!
    • diagnosis and preparation for surgery
    • run by a nurse
    • beds can only be placed next to a wall
    • place near an operating theatre

    The ward fulfils a dual role of diagnosis and treatment. Patients are sent here for further study while symptoms develop, and also in preparation for surgery. It requires a nurse to run and is one of the rooms that should be built early in the level. Patients can spend a fair amount of time in the ward, more so than other diagnosis rooms. 

    During its construction you will find that beds can only be placed next to the wall, so a long rectangular design may be better than a large square. Place a ward near an operating theatre as these two rooms are closely linked. A nearby GP's office is also useful. 

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    Psychiatric room

    • used for both patient diagnosis and cure
    • best placed near a GP's surgery
    • requires a doctor trained in psychiatry

    Diagnosing diseases of the mind and providing a complete cure is the purpose of this room. It largely stands on its own, is never improved by research, and has a 100% success rate in curing patients (is this what Freud wanted to bring to the world?). 

    Requiring a few 'dedicated' psychiatrists, this is quite a straight forward room to run. It should be placed close to a GP's office because of the referrals as part of the diagnosis procedure. 

    The screen is used by patients cured of King Complex, and it is worth adding a bookcase and skeleton to make the room run more smoothly. 
     
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    Operating theatre

    A stitch in time...
    • requires two surgeons to operate
    • good source of income
    • place near ward

    Curing conditions with the knife requires two doctors trained in surgery, one to cut and stitch, the other to operate the anaesthetic. 

    Procedures here can cost the patient upward of $1000 (provided your reputation is average or above) and patients requiring surgery are always present from the start of a level. You can increase you income considerably by building and staffing  one of these rooms. 

    Operating theatres should be placed near a ward as patients all require a pre surgery rest there. On later levels consider building at least two operating theatres, the demand for them can be quite high.

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    Research

    As seen on Star Trek
    • develops new diagnosis and cure rooms
    • develops equipment for faster research
    • improves drug cure percentages and diagnosis/cure machine strength
    • requires a doctor trained in research
    • place out of the way of patients, they don't leave
    • provides a spare stock of doctors for use during rush periods
    • consider placing a small staff room nearby, and by training

    Research rooms are an essential part of completing a level: they give you access to new diagnosis and cure rooms that you will need to build. Without these new rooms you can't achieve the required cure percentage to complete a level. They can also give you better (and more expensive) equipment with which to conduct research. Sadly, you never get a table with lots of bubbling potions and glass bulbs heated by bunsen burners! 

    A research room will improve diagnosis and cure machines in strength, though you have to buy/replace a machine to gain the benefit of this. All of this requires one or more doctors with a research qualification to run the room. 

    One rather gruesome benefit of a research room is the Auto autopsy machine. It assists research with new clinics for particular diseases. When you have a patient you cannot cure, one option is to send them here for vivisection. Probably best done when you have suffered a death already that year and can stand to take a reputation drop. I've never seen anyone give the poor patient an anaesthetic first... but then they're going to die anyway, right? 

    The research room also acts as a small pool of doctors for use when the hospital is busier that usual. Don't forget to put them back when things calm down. You might also like to place it near a small staff room (so researchers don't walk too far to rest) and by the training room(s) in a far wing of your hospital. 

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    Training

    The leg bones connected to the... ankle bone
    • only one consultant in room at a time
    • train doctors and juniors in skills
    • build a large room, trains and promotes doctors quickly
    • place out of way of patients, they don't visit
    • provides a spare stock of doctors for use during a rush period
    • consider placing a small staff room nearby, and by research

    Training is the best way to promote your doctors, and the only way to give them extra skills to service specialist rooms (psychiatry, surgery and research). A consultant is required to pass his skills onto the students in the room. Only one consultant can be in the room at a time, so if one of your doctors is promoted he will leave. 

    New doctors, particularly the useless juniors, can benefit from time in training. Each doctor learns it his own rate, but it is possible for them to be promoted to consultant before they learn new skills. Junior doctors don't have this problem as they continue to learn when they are promoted to doctor. Doctors improve their skill in this room very quickly, particularly if is large and well stocked with items. 

    This room should be placed well out of the way of patients as they never need to visit. A small staff room placed nearby will also help, and for this reason it is a good idea to build near a research room also. You can take doctors from here and place them in key areas during a rush of patients. Don't forget to put them back! 

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    Staff room

    There's no clinic for this addiction
    • tired staff rest from duty
    • a larger well equipped room is better
    • should be easily accessible to staff
    • patients don't visit this room
    • can be used as a source of staff during rush periods

    Although this room isn't used by patients, it is very important for your staff morale that you have a staff room. When they have worked for a certain time (set on the hospital policy screen) then they will retire here until fully rested. A larger room with plenty of seats and distractions (video games, pool table, TV) will soon have them recovered. 

    The room should be placed so that it can be easily reached. In larger hospitals this means building several rooms or placing one in a very central position. You can take partially rested staff and use them again during a rush of patients. 

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    Toilets

    • stop patients peeing on the floor
    • place several around a large hospital
    • easily accessible from waiting areas
    • patients leave the queue when they go to the privy

    Much more important on later levels where patients spend a long time in the hospital, consuming drinks and letting nature take its course. Strategic placement of a toilet facility can stop them relieving themselves on the floor. A handyman will clean up the mess, but they'd much rather be doing other things. You should place a toilet a short walk from most parts of the hospital, particularly waiting areas. 

    Patients leave the queue they are in when they go to the privy. 

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    Waiting areas

    • enable patients to queue more patiently(!)
    • can help you get a quick idea how many patients are waiting

    When a patient is waiting for diagnosis or treatment, they quickly get annoyed and leave if they have to stand for a long time. By designing waiting areas (with other embellishments) you can reduce the number of patients that walk out on you. 

    A patient friendly waiting area can be of benefit to you as well. You can see at a glance what areas are getting log jammed and deal with it. The isometric hospital layout means that some seats are harder to see. Try to avoid placing seats where the wall partially obscures who is sitting there (though this is usually honoured in the breach). 

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    Receptionists

    • direct patients to GP's office
    • more than one receptionist can combine to handle a large queue
    • can be used to redistribute queues
    • epidemics are over when the health inspector reaches the receptionist

    The first port of call for all patients in the hospital is the receptionist. She directs all patients to the nearby GP's offices and does her best to make sure they are reasonably well balanced. When the receptionist gets clogged down a second or third can be added as they can combine to manage queues if placed close together. 

    If you don't have time to manage a badly balanced queue situation then you can force patients to return to the receptionist, and she will help balance the queues. This adds time to the patients wait and is not guaranteed to cure the problem. Redirect the patient by selecting them in the room queue panel with a right click, and then chose send to receptionist from the options. 

    When a health inspector visits the hospital the epidemic is over when he reaches the receptionist desk. You could buy yourself some extra time if the receptionist were placed deeper within the hospital. 

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    Corridor items

    Is that you uncle?
    • drinks machines help make more money
    • plants make queues more bearable for patients
    • place radiators in corridors to cover cold patches

    It would be a rather bare hospital if all you ever placed in it were chairs, doctors and rooms. By adding features you make the patients stay more bearable: effectively giving you longer queues. 

    A drinks machine will help you make more money and stop the patients thirst from driving them out. They work best in conjunction with waiting areas, patients only have to walk a short distance to get what they need. Make sure that you don't create any blockages when the machine is placed. 

    Adding a plant to a waiting area also improves patient disposition, but make sure that your handymen are set to water them frequently enough. Dying plants tend to remind patients why they're in the hospital in the first place. 

    If you have cold patches in your waiting areas then your patients will be unhappy. Add radiators to cure the problem, and if you want to keep the area as aesthetically pleasing as possible then place them on the end of bench rows or next to drinks machines/plants. 

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