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How Covid-19 is Changing Hospital Designs

hospital design

Modern hospitals often lack the flexibility to accommodate an unexpected surge of patients. Currently, the primary health centres lack infrastructure, medical equipment, and supplies, and most importantly sufficient and trained manpower and there are no quick fixes available.

Seven months after the first cases of the novel coronavirus were first exposed, it is now clear that the virus is not going to be wane off easily. Hence, quick fixes like transforming exhibition grounds, malls, workspaces, and hotels, into hospitals are not long-term measures and are not as effective in any case. Hopefully, this pandemic should act as a cautionary to correct the flawed infrastructure and policies to strengthen them. During epidemics or a medical emergency caused by natural or man-made disasters, these primary healthcare centres should be the first responders and act as a connection with the IDC Centres in the initial reporting, creating awareness about the diseases and most significantly reporting the response of the community to the treatment and policies along with any reappearance of diseases as a means of creating a strong base for the healthcare delivery process. 

An effective mechanism needs to be formulated through policies, logistics, and staff training in linking the primary health centres to the IDC Centres for a quick and unified transition of a patient needing care.

 Many hospitals have been running out of space and resources to treat COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, while at the same time handling those with mild symptoms and the asymptomatic who may infect health care workers along with other patients. 

Temporary hospital spaces are more likely to support isolation and medical care for milder COVID-19 cases than to fully imitate a permanent hospital’s ICU. But such modified hospital designs — similar to the temporary hospital wards and field hospitals of historical outbreaks — have become essential as the first wave of the pandemic tears through societies, and they will likely be wanted again for the second wave of outbreaks. As hospital designers convert spaces for temporary use, many are recognizing new opportunities for hospital systems that have conventionally emphasized lean and effective operations. To be precise, future hospitals should have more flexibility for pandemics and other outlier events that create brief surges in demand every five or ten years. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is also exposing new requirements for hospitals that neither open wards nor more flexible capacity can address. Hospital designers and architects are deliberating the need for touch-free control for lighting, temperature, and other construction functions, to help avoid dispersion of ailments on these highly used surfaces. Construction with resources that are less hospitable to microbes, such as copper, may also diminish the risk of surface spread. Some hospitals have already disregarded window curtains, which can become infected without any difficulty, by installing windows made of e-switchable privacy glass — also known as e-glass or smart glass — which can shift between translucent and opaque and are easy to clean.

New hospital designs could also help patients stay connected to friends and family by integrating widely accessible technologies such as video chat and virtual reality headsets. In the pandemic, many patients and health care workers have shared stories describing the emotional trauma associated with long, isolated hospital stays. There should be an amalgamation of technology with digital infrastructure. Tools such as crowd detection, thermal scanning are essential for identifying critical spots and separate potential disease carriers. Also, with the use of video calls and conferencing, virtual contact can be established between patients in quarantine, isolation, or Intensive care with nurses, doctors, and their loved ones, to diminish contact yet create well-being.

The motive is to move towards a system where health facilities become substantive for better health and promote healthy habits and well-being amongst societies- a strong network of healthcare infrastructure that enables pliability in society. Therefore, the outbreak is a chance to identify gaps and promulgate positive changes in our built environment.

These different architectural tactics against a common enemy only go to prove that there is no one right solution to tackle a pandemic at the least when the ground reality is different in every state, city, and neighbourhood. A medical strategy that works in an urban slum-like Dharavi in Mumbai cannot be copy-pasted to the rest of the country, so also healthcare facility design has altered to local requirements.

The experts at HPG Consulting are here to help. Equipped with extensive experience in Hospital Planning, we are ideally positioned to deliver on any set of requirements. To get the ball rolling, fill out our contact form or simply call  +91-9311 202 627

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