With the coronavirus pandemic seeing the rapid construction of an emergency hospital in Wuhan, Burkhard Musselmann, Managing Principal and healthcare architect at Stantec, and Maria Ionescu, senior healthcare architect, discuss 'what we've learned.
Following the coronavirus pandemic and the rapid construction of an emergency hospital in Wuhan, Burkhard Musselmann, Managing Principal and healthcare architect at the UK office of architectural practice, Stantec, and Maria Ionescu, senior healthcare architect at the company’s Los Angeles office, discuss ‘what we’ve learned from Wuhan, other locations, and the UK response’. They also examine how we can take those lessons and the existing NHS infrastructure to build resilience into healthcare environments that offer scalability and flexibility for times of extreme need.
There is an ancient Chinese curse that says ‘May you live in interesting times’, and, as we’ve seen this year, there is a reason why the phrase is termed a curse rather than a blessing. Since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan, the spread of the coronavirus, and its escalation to the level of a global pandemic, mean that the times we live in have never been more ‘interesting’, or more worrying. At the time of writing, several European countries, including the UK, are in lockdown, the global financial markets are plummeting, and both the human and economic costs of the virus worldwide are still growing.
Hopefully, by the time of publication, we will have moved beyond the ‘What can we do about it?’ phase towards a ‘What can we learn from it?’ approach to embedding a new culture of resilience in our healthcare estates. There will be a lot of lessons in terms of the politics, science, and economics involved, along with questions of operational resilience and managing demand for services at a time of crisis. There are also lessons to be learned in how we design and build hospitals to cope with the curved balls that life can throw at us, including how we go about adapting the assets we have, alongside building new healthcare facilities and mobilising field hospitals.
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