Pandemic facilities essential in future hospital and healthcare facility designs
The long-term impact of COVID-19 will force architects to include facilities to deal with pandemics in all future healthcare facility designs.
Based on our work in Asia to date, we are already seeing this in Singapore and Hong Kong and it is my prediction that Australia will be close to following. The design of built environments will be part of our strategic and future pandemic planning and emergency preparedness in the sector.
With SARS, COVID-19 and a high number of tuberculosis cases, pandemic planning has been very much on the mind in Asia when it comes to redeveloping or expanding new hospital facilities.
AT ThomsonAdsett, we have extensive experience in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, carrying out several large-scale architectural projects in the healthcare sector.
We are currently working to transform the Hong Kong Health Service with the planned delivery of several hospital projects over the next 10 years.
Part of this work has been to address many issues related to the separation of patients with different diagnoses.
Likewise, another large hospital in Southeast Asia recently invited architects to consider incorporating effective pandemic planning to include a decontamination area and fever clinic in their future designs.
There is no doubt that health services across Australia will follow suit.
Contingency planning and discussions about reallocating services to decontamination areas and fever clinics will become standard practice. And that’s where we come in.
Leveraging all forms of expertise and professional specialties is paramount for a rapid resolution of the crisis, avoiding unintended consequences in the short term and anchoring resilience in our health systems in the longer term.
Architects, and in particular architects who work in the healthcare sector, are key and valuable resources for rapid adjustments to current hospital and non-hospital infrastructure – reallocation of old healthcare buildings, erection of temporary structures, management consideration of patient use (from entering reception areas for administration to end of care) and considering emergency preparedness in our building codes and design guidelines .
Functional planning during a pandemic is essential to ensure the efficient operation of every facility, whether it is an expansion, renovation or construction of a new complex.
Current use of space in hospitals can be quickly assessed to maximize existing areas of use. We need a sustainable, flexible, adaptive, responsive and local architecture, but without being parochial. A waiting room for example, if well designed, can be turned into a temporary fever clinic in the event of a pandemic.
If patients require hospitalization based on emerging treatment for COVID-19, they will need either a negative air pressure chamber relative to other nearby spaces, or increased isolation provided by an emergency room. isolation for airborne infections, or AIIR, such as chambers used to resist tuberculosis. .
Existing hospital rooms can be modified to meet these specific air pressure requirements. However, they will require quick and focused physical and operational adjustments.
The design of these care environments is important.
As architects, we need to be ready and positioned to ensure that the built space has positive effects on health outcomes and the way care is delivered.
Given that we live in an era where pandemics and viruses will be part of our daily lives, architects will have to adapt their thinking and their future designs very quickly, especially in the field of health. By designing for the needs of a pandemic reality, architects will act as guarantors and guardians of the public health of a community.