The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has posed an unprecedented challenge to healthcare infrastructure around the world.
Until we can better understand the virus’ pathways, we won’t be able to confidently redesign our existing spaces to adhere to new and higher standards of infection control guidelines.
In the meantime, hospitals will continue to repurpose and convert their spaces adhoc to meet surge demand—adapting idealized infection control protocols to unideal spaces and situations.
This means healthcare workers and administrators must quickly adapt inflexible spaces and create temporary site-specific guidelines that are implementable based on the best available knowledge.
So while we need research to understand who is at increased risk for complications of COVID-19 and to develop effective vaccines and best therapies, we also need research that identifies how spatial design and awareness can mitigate risk.
One shining example of a hospital that redesigned space on the fly to help with the COVID-19 surge is our very own, Renown Regional Medical Center who turned a parking structure into a 1,400-bed coronavirus care facility in 10 days. See it here: Herculean Effort! 1400 New Beds Added to Renown in Preparation of Nevada’s COVID-19 Peak
Another example is The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City who was on the frontlines of it all. Clinicians at The Mount Sinai Hospital, researchers, and designers came together to understand the constraints of adapting guidelines to imperfect spaces. Their rapid response study can be seen here: Redesigning Hospital Spaces on the Fly to Protect Healthcare Workers
Marie Wikoff is the creator of Wikoff Design Studio based out of Reno, Nevada. Her expertise in healthcare design has helped develop modern design for healthcare organizations locally, regionally and internationally. Her credentials include Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designer (CHID), the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and LEED AP. Contact Marie Wikoff
“The Role of Architecture in Fighting COVID-19.” Home | MASS Design Group, 2020, massdesigngroup.org/.