What would be the new regular within the post-COVID-19 world and to what extent will the way in which we work together with the built environment change?
There are such a lot of unanswered questions we’re sorting by means of throughout this pandemic. The large one for me is: what would be the new regular within the post-COVID-19 world and to what extent will the way in which we work together with the constructed atmosphere change?
Sadly, it is a query that may’t be answered exactly proper now and that’s actually powerful for me as a sensible, fact-based, to-the-point engineer.
How will the options which have been created on the entrance traces higher inform our design selections?
I at all times consider medical doctors and nurses as engineers for the human physique and I’m amazed at how they’ve tailored to the chaos of our present tragedy. I’ve been blown away by individuals’s ingenuity and innovation. From changing non-critical areas into life-saving intensive care facilities to the modern PPE options with which hospital workers have geared up themselves, we are able to study loads from surges, shortages and excessive conditions. We’ve seen ICU nurses shifting monitoring tools to corridors in an effort to reduce PPE use, conversions of under-utilized PACU and clinic areas into medical/surgical rooms, and conversions of hospital areas into destructive stress rooms with localized and central exhaust methods.
Over the subsequent few weeks and months, I hope engineers are finding out the entire unbelievable methods individuals have tailored their environments. Understanding the environmental adjustments entrance line groups made to adapt will assist inform how we are able to adapt our design approaches, too.
How can we higher defend those that are most weak?
In our work, we now have the chance to make individuals’s lives higher by means of design. Seeing probably the most weak populations in our county get hit hardest drives dwelling the truth that we as engineers can push for change with ourselves and with our purchasers.
Sufferers in hospitals who’ve underlying well being points will at all times exist and can nonetheless be probably the most vulnerable to infections and illness. Whether or not it’s isolation rooms, affected person flows, new applied sciences or air flow charges, we have to at all times design for probably the most weak amongst us. Together with serving to our purchasers put together for the rise in affected person volumes, we should always not neglect that weak sufferers will nonetheless want most cancers remedy, transplants, and different procedures carried out.
For instance, we have to guarantee the choices made on air dealing with methods and building stress relationships to deal with COVID sufferers is not going to create destructive outcomes for these in restoration from a coronary heart transplant in the identical hospital.
We additionally must do not forget that one other weak group throughout this time are the medical doctors and nurses treating contaminated sufferers. A query we should always at all times ask ourselves with each advice we give is, “How does this advice affect your medical workers who want to stay secure in order that they’ll proceed their life-saving therapies?”
How can we proceed to tailor options to fulfill particular wants?
Now we have at all times recognized engineering will not be a one-size suits all matter. This has been particularly obvious to me on this disaster. Whenever you see the actual struggles of a 200+ mattress affected person tower proper alongside the struggles of a small group hospital, you notice there isn’t any one straightforward, singular resolution to deal with engineering challenges that will come up.
It’s going to take the non-public care and ingenuity that we pleasure ourselves on to work with these very totally different teams and ensure we’re taking the time to grasp the broader context of every facility we work in.
How can we higher inform our purchasers of what they’ve and how you can deploy it rapidly and simply?
In a lot of our discussions with our purchasers to-date, it’s turning into obvious to me that we as engineers want to ensure our end-users perceive what methods exist already of their buildings and how you can deploy them when wanted. What occurs when there’s turnover of services individuals who had the data of the intricate methods of a hospital? We have to assist our purchasers take the time to research their methods, doc them, and ensure there’s a transition plan in place when somebody leaves.
How are we going to form our design course of to assist our purchasers grow to be extra resilient to the various “what if” situations forward?
I’ve been considering loads about this query and the way we as engineers can take the lead on designing for resilience. What this disaster has taught all of us is that the surprising can completely occur and we should be higher ready for a lot of totally different “what if” situations. Particularly for hospitals, engineers want to think about design options that assist services grow to be extra versatile when wanted whereas nonetheless sustaining normal practices throughout lengthy stretches of normalcy.
I hope once we do return to our “new regular,” we’ll look again on these occasions as one the place we pushed ourselves to suppose otherwise about ourselves and the way we observe engineering. Perhaps then we’ll emerge higher than earlier than and proceed to maneuver our observe ahead.