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within the hospital design, with dedicated access and proximity to lab facilities where samples can be analysed on site for a faster turnaround of test results. This on-site testing would also allow healthcare professionals to access regular testing, so that they only self-isolate when they are confirmed to have the virus.

Protecting families and patients Linked to this is the need for healthcare professionals to protect their families and their patients from the spread of the virus. Many healthcare professionals during COVID-19 have been returning to their families between shifts, which puts loved ones at risk, and could contribute to the spread of the virus. Others have relied on short-term lets, or even use of hotels closed by the lockdown, as a temporary base away from loved ones. On-site staff accommodation must be a consideration for pandemic and crisis resilience going forward, and this could be factored into the design with a variety of strategies. Dedicated, permanent staff

accommodation may be viable in some settings, but this alone may still be inadequate to meet demand when the hospital is at surge capacity. Hospitals with guest accommodation for patient visitors that can be switched to staff quarters are more resilient, but add-on staff accommodation for rapid deployment should also be considered. This could either take the form of repurposing existing accommodation or,

more practically, would involve modular units available for rapid construction on site, involving the forward planning shown in Wuhan with the pre-preparation of sites for installation of the modules.

Research’s importance

Research is similarly a resource within the built asset that needs to be designed with a planned ability to upscale if required. While development work on a vaccine and an antibody test is being done at private and public sector labs around the world, dovetailing this activity with the epicentre of treatment for the virus would ensure that we join the dots to fast-track any breakthroughs. There is already a strong infrastructure for translational research in the NHS, and it’s essential that we prioritise this within hospital design. We embed an understanding of how testing, treatment, and research need to be accommodated in a joined-up process, as part of an efficient and coordinated pandemic response that takes full advantage of both public and private sector resources. The emerging picture is that countries where this approach has been implemented are coming out of the COVID-19 lockdown earlier, with significant benefits to their economies.

Scalability and flexibility for the future

In our profession as healthcare architects, we are driven to design accommodation that meets the current requirements of

Burkhard Musselmann

Burkhard Musselmann is an architect with nearly 20 years’ experience in designing, documenting, and managing, a wide range of healthcare projects. He is now playing a vital role in the operations of the Stantec London office in the role of Managing Principal. Since joining Stantec in 2003, he has completed an MSc in Construction and Project Management at the Queen’s University Belfast. During his studies he carried out extensive research into the delivery of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) healthcare projects in the UK. He specialises in the management and execution of large, complex healthcare projects, and leads multidisciplinary design teams through all stages of the design – from inception to completion – in the UK and internationally. The wide range of projects in his portfolio includes the South West Acute Hospital in Northern Ireland, which won 11 design and sustainability awards

Maria Ionescu

Maria Ionescu, a senior medical planner and senior project manager on Stantec’s healthcare buildings team in Los Angeles, has 25 years’ experience in transformational healthcare planning and design for projects across the world. She joined Stantec’s Los Angeles team from Singapore, where she was the lead healthcare project manager on multiple developments. Prior to working in Asia, she was the planning coordinator for the award-winning $2.5 billion Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal in Quebec, which involved leading bi-lingual user-group consultations and coordinating planning teams across multiple time zones. She has also provided medical planning and design leadership for multiple healthcare facilities in and around Toronto, including the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. She is a graduate of the Ion Mincu Institute of Architecture in Romania, and was the recipient of a TEMPUS scholarship at the University of Nottingham’s School of Architecture.

September 2020 Health Estate Journal 61

hospital users, while allowing for flexibility to adapt to changes in the scale and scope of demand. There will be significant lessons to be learned from COVID-19 about the challenges faced, and how the hospital environment can be designed to overcome them.

Not all of the change that will prepare us for future crises will be delivered by the design of the built asset, however. We’re already seeing the use of tracking technology in countries like China, Singapore and, most recently, Germany, to map the path of infection following the easing of lockdown restrictions and, while there is a moral maze to be navigated on this topic, there are also clear benefits to utilising tracking and the data it provides within a hospital setting and the wider public. Moving forward, operational best practice, design best practice, and technology such as patient tracking and autonomous vehicles to transport patients for testing and treatment, will all have a role to play in more resilient healthcare provision.

It’s clear that international cooperation and learning will help us create new criteria for resilient hospital assets that offer flexibility and scalability, but this is a conversation that’s only just beginning, and is likely to play out over a number of years. Looking across Stantec’s global network, there is ample opportunity to bring together both new and tried and tested ideas for future hospital design and modification.


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