The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we approach airborne infection risk. Despite concerted national efforts, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 31 million individuals and claimed more than 560,000 lives in the United States alone. Increasing evidence suggests that the virus is not only spread through large respiratory droplets expelled through coughing and sneezing, but also through microscopic airborne particles.
Because of this, hospitals and medical facilities are quickly pivoting to mitigate the risk of airborne virus transmission and hospital acquired infection. According to an article in Healthcare Design, such changes include increasing isolation room capacity, limiting shared staff spaces, isolating operating rooms, and designing features that can be more easily cleaned.
Here are some of the innovative ways hospitals are altering their structures and design to reduce disease transmission.
- Contactless parking. Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama replaced its parking system with contactless parking, which helps reduce the spread of germs and disease. The technology allows staff, patients and visitors to use their mobile phones to access and pay for parking instead of employing more traditional methods, such requiring drivers to touch a pay kiosk and accept tickets.
- Increased isolation rooms. The University of Virginia Medical Center made last minute changes to scheduled construction in order to increase the number of airborne infectious isolation rooms. The medical center converted 12 intensive care unit rooms into negative pressure rooms in order to accommodate additional patients, for a total of 15 isolation rooms. The center also installed high-velocity stack fans on the building’s roof to give additional patient rooms negative pressure.
- Telehealth. Many healthcare facilities and hospital systems across the country are implementing and increasing telehealth options to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Telehealth has the potential to dramatically improve health outcomes in rural areas where it may be more difficult for patients to get to in-person appointments.
- Pop-up medical centers. Architects and healthcare industry leaders are working together to explore ways to contain COVID-19 and prevent or mitigate the impact of a future pandemic. The Héroe Research Initiative is designing a model for temporary medical complexes that could accommodate thousands of patients and staff and be deployed anywhere across the world in as little as a few days.
Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and other companies easily analyze air quality conditions and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.