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Rethinking Hospital Design

Without doubt the Covid- 19 pandemic has highlighted the role of healthcare facilities in our lives. Officials around the world have been rushing to quickly convert hotels, convention centers and even outdoor parks into hospital space. As a result many physicians, architects and healthcare consultants are rethinking hospital design and how quickly one could be reconfigured internally to avoid a repeat of the current national crisis.

One factor became obvious: Modern hospitals were unable to accommodate a sudden surge of patients. Hospitals ran out of space especially where isolation from patients with non-covid symptoms became mandatory. Hospital beds  were set up in conference rooms lobbies, cafeterias: private rooms were converted to wards. Hotels, assisted living facilities, religious facilities, colleges became hospitals. Much was learned but the most important was that the healthcare system, where patients had to be physically separated, was not prepared for mass local or national emergency situations. Whether it is a Katrina or a Covid-19, the ability to create space within space simply did not and today does not exist in virtually every healthcare facility in North America.

Ironically the concept of “social distancing” in hospitals has been around for quite some time. The British nurse Florence Nightingale popularized the concept of hospital wards over 150 years ago. The need for fresh air (the best hygiene of the day), sunlight, visual contact with others which is good for morale etc., was what she proposed . She advocated the placement of beds 6’ apart which is the distance that typically prevented one patient from touching another. In order to provide some privacy in wards, fabric curtains were installed on overhead tracks and used when temporary visual privacy was required and became the norm. Then the emergence and predominance of private healthcare systems especially in the US emerged which focussed on cutting costs and eliminating excess hospital capacity. Private health care insurance plans that covered the cost of semi and private hospital rooms, the increased competition amongst privately run hospitals and more and more luxury demands from patients decreased the ability of healthcare facilities to cope with unusual and unexpected demands. So here we are: private and competing healthcare facilities that often resemble a resort, focussed on cost cutting while trying to attract those who can afford their services and unable to quickly cope with the unexpected Covid-19.

On a personal note years ago I worked with an Architect and hospital board designing a facility in London Ontario Canada. The Architect wanted to create a bunch of “wards” but also have the ability to quickly create if needed within the ward “private and semi-private” rooms. At the time – this was over 30 years ago – a product that satisfied the needed features (surfaces that were able to be cleaned and  less hospitable to microbes, easily relocated partitions, acoustical and visual privacy, transparency, economical etc.) was not available so the idea did not move forward.

But now MODERCO has a product that  satisfies those needs and also the needs of today. A moveable wall that can be easily installed and concealed within a “ward” type area but also allows the facility to quickly create rooms of different sizes within that “ward”, a moveable wall that you can see through but also able to provide visual privacy when needed,  one that has acoustical privacy (STC 44) equivalent to a typical permanent wall, easily relocatable by all trained personnel,  easily cleaned with common disinfectants, a surface that is by nature anti-bacterial, economical, attractive, easily maintained by hospital personnel.

Crystal glass walls by Moderco. STC  44, manually operated, no electrical components to go wrong, light and easily relocatable, 90% glass surface, internal blinds remotely operated, cleanable surfaces, easily maintained, economical. 24 hour guaranteed service if problems occur. serviced by local trained distributors, five-year warranty on complete system.

The perfect system when the need to divide space within a space is needed. Call Moderco at 1 800 363-3150 so we can discuss how to make your healthcare facility whether new or existing more flexible and able to react to unexpected needs.