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Coronavirus Response: New Spaces for Patients

By / Aug 12, 2020 Vanderbilt University transformed a parking garage to house COVID-19 patients. (AIA)

To deal with patient surge, AIA developed an assessment tool to help healthcare and non-healthcare entities make decisions about converting spaces into healthcare operations.

Coronavirus Response • American Institute of Architects

As need for space to treat patients grew during the pandemic, the American Institute of Architects developed a COVID-19 Alternative Care Sites Assessment Tool to help both healthcare and non-healthcare entities make decisions about converting spaces into healthcare operations. It includes a checklist of considerations, including requirements for space and staff, patient safety, and mitigating the spread of disease. The tool helps people who are not healthcare design experts evaluate whether a space is suitable for patient care.

It’s been an emotional process. We’re trying to make sure patients will be cared for with dignity, including end-of-life circumstances.

Some of these spaces are adjacent to existing healthcare facilities; others are outside the medical realm, including convention centers, community centers, and hotels. The assessment tool incorporates healthcare design best practices and standards, as well as input from experienced healthcare architects and several other organizations.

“Anyone considering converting space for surge capacity but who is not familiar with healthcare codes and standards typically would be challenged to synthesize this type of information rapidly without having to look at a mountain of code books and best practices,” says Task Force Chair Molly Scanlon, FAIA, FACHA.

As the task force deployed the tool, it also created an online COVID-19 ArchMap, where architects and building owners who have already converted more than 100 spaces have shared publicly what they did.

The tool addresses some difficult issues in designing the space, including whether to set it up for COVID-19 or non-COVID-19 patients. “It’s been an emotional process. We’re trying to make sure patients will be cared for with dignity, including end-of-life circumstances,” Scanlon says.

Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. More »

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